The Science of Flight
Many of us board a plane without understanding what a truly extraordinary experience flight is: suspended 30,000 feet or more in the air, propelled to our destination at close to the speed of sound, protected from extreme cold and low pressure by the thin skin of the aircraft. We realize it’s complicated, but few of us know how it works. Even more remarkable is space flight, the “rocket science” that we use as a benchmark of difficulty or complexity.
Yet the related principles of atmospheric and space flight are not tricky. Studying these two miracles of modern engineering is a wide-ranging lesson in physics, technology, and history. No organization is more authoritative on this subject than the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and its annex, the Udvar-Hazy Center. Together, they host the world’s premier collections of air and space artifacts and are home to some of the most distinguished scholars in the field.
The Great Courses is proud to join forces with the Smithsonian to explain flight as it’s never been described before. The Science of Flight is a series of 24 half-hour lectures that show how gliders, airplanes, helicopters, rockets, spacecraft, and other flying machines work on the inside. The lectures are filled with pictures from NASM’s unmatched collection and commentary from the museum’s world-famous curators.
The Science of Flight is taught by award-winning educator James W. Gregory, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor at Ohio State University. As an instrument-rated private pilot and engineer, Professor Gregory explains the principles of flight, rocketry, and related topics as you’ll get outside of flight school. His lectures are always very clear, and NASM experts add insightful comments that put everything from airfoils to orbits into a fascinating historical context.
The more than one dozen curators and other NASM staff featured in this course include:
Tom Crouch: The Senior Curator of Aeronautics at NASM, Dr. Crouch surveys the celebrated early days of aviation. He is a well-known historian and has written a best-selling book about the Wright brothers.
John D. Anderson, Jr.: Serving as a technical consultant for the course, Dr. Anderson is the Curator of Aerodynamics at NASM. He uses his love of the history of aviation engineering to talk about critical first steps in the field.
Dorothy Cochrane is the Curator of General Aviation at NASM. She focuses on the amazing accomplishments of civilian pilots, such as aerobatic champions and long-distance fliers who broke records.
Roger Launius is the Senior Space History Curator at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). He used to be the Chief Historian for NASA. Dr. Launius predicts the future of space travel by looking at what has been done and what is being planned now.
And These are just some of the remarkable talents assembled for this course.
The Science of Flight PDF
Author(s): James W. Gregory
Series: The Great Courses
Publisher: The Teaching Company, Year: 2017