Airplane Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Have you ever flown on an airplane? Read on to find out some interesting and amazing facts about airplanes including the fastest plane, the largest plane, and a plane that has wings that flap like a bird!

Beyond the Wngs and Tail

You may know a little something about the common parts of an airplane, such as the wings, tail, body (or fuselage), propellers, or engines. But did you know that the first airplanes were made out of wood and cloth?

Today's airplanes are aircraft that have fixed wings, which means the wings don't move. Unlike birds that flap their wings to lift up into the air, the wings on an airplane stay in the same place throughout the flight. One type of airplane, called an ornithopter, actually had wings that flapped like a bird!

An Ornithopter
ornithopter

People tried to build ornithopters for over 3,000 years, but no one built one that worked until about 75 years ago. The famous artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci drew plans for an ornithopter, but he never tried to build it.

They're Super Fast

One benefit of traveling in an airplane is that they travel very fast, so you can cover great distances in a short amount of time. Some planes actually can fly faster than the speed of sound! These planes are called supersonic. They travel at over 768 miles per hour!

The Concorde
concorde

The most famous supersonic plane was called the Concorde. It flew between New York, London, and Paris. While regular airplanes could fly from New York to Paris in eight hours, it took the supersonic Concorde only three and half hours or less to cover the same distance.

Who Was First?

Orville and Wilbur Wright, usually known just as the Wright Brothers, are given the credit for building the first successful airplane. Many other people built planes before the Wright Brothers, but these planes didn't stay in the air for very long. Many of these early planes couldn't be controlled by the pilot; the inventors were lucky if the plane went up into the air at all! They didn't worry about steering it!

The Wright Brothers completed the first controlled plane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

A model of the plane flown by the Wright Brothers.
wright

Would you believe that they actually only flew 120 feet? That's only about one-third the length of a football field! One of today's popular planes called the Boeing 747 actually has a wingspan of 195 feet from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other wing. That means that the wingspan of the Boeing 747 is 75 feet longer than the entire distance traveled by the Wright Brothers during their first flight!

More Airplane Facts

Here are some other interesting facts about airplanes:

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