Sunday, November 1, 2009

An aircraft is a vehicle which is able to fly by being supported by the air, or in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift (as with balloons, blimps and dirigibles) or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil (as with vehicles that plane the air with wings in a straight manner, such as airplanes and gliders, or vehicles that generate lift with wings in a rotary manner, such as helicopters or gyrocopters).

An Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner

Although rockets and missiles also travel through the atmosphere, most are not considered aircraft because they use rocket thrust instead of aerodynamics as the primary means of lift (A cruise missile may be considered to be an aircraft because it relies on a lifting wing).

The human activity which surrounds aircraft is called aviation. Manned aircraft are flown by an onboard pilot. Unmanned aerial vehicles may be remotely controlled or self-controlled by onboard computers. Target drones are an example of UAVs.

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