How It Flies {Free eBook}

How it Flies by Richard Ferris is an interesting look at aeronautics — man’s attempt to learn to fly and the paths he took to get there.

Subtitled The Conquest of the Air: The Story of Man’s Endeavors to Fly and of the Inventions by which He Has Succeeded, the author covers flight beginning with mythological machines to da Vinci’s sketches and attempts at flight, through gliders, monoplanes, and biplanes.

Along the way we learn about:

  • The vocabulary of flight.
  • Air.
  • Wind velocity.
  • The principles of flight.
  • Turbulence.
  • Gravity.
  • The laws of motion.
  • The laws of force.
  • Various flight machines.

All of this while meeting the interesting characters who shaped the path toward man’s adventure in the sky. The book includes brief biographies of prominent flyers and their contributions, along with a timeline of achievements.

Of course, we have come a long way since the book was written over 100 years ago. However, How it Flies is a great first look at man’s attempt to fly — and it’s free!

Free eBook
  • Create a timeline showing the major developments in flight.
  • Write a brief biography for each individual mentioned and his/her contribution to flight.
  • Pick an aircraft to investigate further.
  • Narrate (explain) the laws of flight.
  • Choose one of the contributors to the advancement of flight to investigate further.
  • Experiment (see suggestions below).
  • To get even more out of the book, keep a notebook on flight. Add the elements listed above. Include diagrams copied from the book, experiment sheets, and map work.

Additional Resources

Unit Study on Flight {Free}
Dig in!

Flight Adventures Unit Study {Free}
68-page download with great activities.

First Flight: The Wright Brothers {Free eBook}
Beautiful picture book.

The Wright Brothers {Review & Suggestions}
Definitive and highly recommended biography!

Free Science Studies: Orville & Wilbur Wright

Free Science Studies: Orville & Wilbur Wright
More resources in this portion of our free science studies based on the free book Great Inventors & Their Inventions by Frank P. Bachman.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Unit Study
Learn more about the man and his machines.

How Things Fly {Featured Site}
Experiment at the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Space Exploration Poster & Activities {Free}
Bring things up to date a bit.

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