Stalling a Wing

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At small angles of attack, air flows smoothly around an airfoil, providing lifting force through the difference in pressure across the top and bottom of the airfoil. As the angle of attack increases, the lift produced by the airfoil increases as well but only to a point. Increasing the angle of attack also increases the adverse pressure gradient on the latter half of the top surface, visible here as an increasingly thick bright area. Over this part of the surface, the pressure is increasing from low to high–the opposite of the direction a fluid prefers to flow. Eventually, this pressure gradient grows strong enough that the flow separates from the airfoil, creating a recirculating bubble of air along much of the top surface. When this happens, the lift produced by the airfoil drops dramatically; this is known as stall.

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