What Is a Stall Speed and How Does It Affect Airplanes?

Regardless of their respective size, airplanes must stay within a certain angle to maintain lift. If they exceed this limit, their lift will decrease. This can lead to a phenomenon known as a stall. When an airplane stalls, it will no longer produce lift. As a result, the airplane’s altitude will decrease as gravity pulls it down. Pilots can prevent stalls, however, by staying above their airplane’s stall speed. What is stall speed exactly, and how does it affect airplanes?

The Basics of Stall Speed

Stall speed refers to the minimum speed at which an airplane must fly to produce lift. Going back to the basics of aerospace dynamics 101, airplanes produce lift in response to the air moving over their wings. At high speeds, the fast-moving air “lifts” the airplane so that it doesn’t fall to the ground. At low speeds, on the other hand, the lack of air movement will result in little or no lift being produced, in which case the airplane may stall.

All airplanes have a specified stall speed. Stall speed is simply the minimum speed needed for an airplane to produce lift. If an airplane drops below its specified stall speed, it will no longer produce lift. Stall speeds vary depending on many factors, some of which include the airplane’s weight, dimensions, altitude and even the weather dimensions. Regardless, airplanes must fly faster than their respective stall speed to maintain lift.

Angle of Attack and Stall Speed: What You Should Know

As previously mentioned, stalls occur when the angle at which an airplane flies exceeds a limit. Being that angle attack is responsible for stalls, you might be wondering why speed is important. Well, speed affects an airplane’s angle of attack. If an airplane flies slowly, it will require a greater angle of attack to produce lift. Eventually, the required angle of attack will be so excessive that the airplane won’t generate lift. Therefore, pilots use stall speed to ensure that they don’t slow enough that it causes a loss of lift.

In Conclusion

Airplanes produce lift from the air moving over their wings. Stall speed is a metric that refers to the minimum speed required for an airplane to produce lift. When airplanes fly slower than their respective stall speed, they won’t produce lift. Stall speed is the minimum speed at which an airplane must fly to produce lift. If an airplane’s speed drops below its stall speed, it won’t produce lift.