|For those who are interested...
||[Oct. 12th, 2008|11:20 am]
An airplane on a treadmill *will* take off, because it's not the wheels that drive the plane forward. |
Once the plane's propulsion method is pushing against the air, it moves forward in the air, and the wheels are just there to let it roll smoothly. (You don't want to drag a plane across the runway; it might scratch the paint!) If you tried to increase the speed of the treadmill, you'd make the wheels roll faster (air speed + treadmill speed), but you wouldn't slow the plane down significantly because the wheels aren't driving the plane, it's the push from the jets/propeller/whatever.
So the plane would move forward through the air, with some additional drag from the wheels, and eventually obtain enough airspeed to take off. (Herm. Assuming that the extra rotation on the wheels doesn't make the tires explode. But that's not the "real" question. :-) )
Now, if the wheels were powered, to throw the plane forward fast enough to let it take off, it would be a different story. The tires would be pushing against the treadmill, the treadmill would be rolling, the plane would stay in one place, and never gain airspeed.
This science lesson was brought to you by a long-haired weirdo who just felt like sharing; aren't you glad you have strange people on your friends list?