What Is Aeronautics?

The Renaissance artist and engineer envisioned several aeronautical concepts centuries before they could be implemented.
The development of flight instrumentation is a field within aeronautics.
Crop dusters are lightweight aircraft that are designed to perform tight maneuvers at low speeds and low altitudes.
Aerospace engineers drew from knowledge gained from the X-15, X-20, and X-24 programs when designing the space shuttle.
The field of aeronautics includes the development of helicopters, which are aircraft that use rotary wings, or rotors, to create lift.
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  • Written By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 09 March 2015
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Aeronautics is the study of flight. Many different areas of aeronautics exist, from aeronautical engineering, to space flight, to aeronautical computer systems. Careers in aeronautics include jobs as an engineer, a research scientist, or an aeronautical technician.

Flight is a relatively new concept to humans as the first plane to carry a man only flew at the beginning of the 20th century. Before the Wright brothers built their flying machine, only natural creatures could fly. Now, many people fly around the world without thinking of the ingenuity, engineering, and theoretical skill that keeps the plane in the air.

Any machine that flies falls into the field of aeronautics. This includes helicopters, airplanes, and even machines that fly in space, like space shuttles. Space travel can also be referred to as astronautics.

Things that fly need to fulfill several conditions in order to keep up in the air and move efficiently through it. The manner in which the machine moves through the air is important, as an aerodynamic plane is more efficient than a nonaerodynamic plane. Once the airflow is understood, an aeronautical expert can design the airplane to suit the air movement.

In order to get into the air and work against the gravity that acts downward on the plane, a propulsion system is necessary. This system needs an energy source, such as aviation fuel, to produce the required energy. Studying the way propulsion systems work can help aeronautical experts design better systems.


Some aeronautics experts are interested in the materials the aircraft is made out of and strive to understand the way they affect flight. This area of aeronautics has resulted in the development of lighter and stronger materials for plane bodies, as opposed to the wood and canvas bodies of the first aircraft. Another aspect of the aeronautical field is the study of the way the pilot controls the movement of the plane. Innovations in steering, instrumentation, and fine control of a plane in all conditions come out of this area of aeronautics. Computerized systems have also been developed to fine-tune the control of a plane while considering many variables.

People who are interested in a career in the field can opt for a research role, where they must grapple with theories of new and better innovations in flight. Another option is to go into the engineering aspect of the field and design new planes or space shuttles. Technicians maintain the machinery to ensure the aircraft are safe for use. Aeronautical engineer careers generally require at least a bachelor's degree in a subject such as engineering, although technicians may not need college degrees. Research careers may require a graduate degree.



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