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"Flying High" Guide & Resources

In "Flying High" Scientific American Frontiers takes to the air for an unusual look at aviation, from the evolution of flight in primitive insects to the latest in high-tech aircraft. "Flying High" features five individual stories.

Here are the topics and running times of stories on this show and a brief description of related activities you'll find in this online teaching guide:

  • The Eternal Wing (running time: 11:23) - Powered by the sun, the Pathfinder experimental aircraft soars to new heights. Activities include: testing lift with a paper glider; racing simple gliders in competition; building a cambered wing.

  • Taking to the Air (running time: 7:55) - A Penn State biologist may have the answer to an evolutionary riddle about the origins of insect flight. Activities include: modeling early wings on primitive insects; quantifying surface tension.

  • Cockpit Confusion (running time: 11:14) - See how computerized airplane controls introduce new challenges to pilots. Activities include: assessing design; finding out more about flight; calculating rate of climb.

  • Bird Man (running time: 9:31) - Pilot-biologist Ken Dial takes to the air and the lab to find out the inside story of bird flight. Activities include: capturing the flight of model birds on video; aviation lessons from the birds.

  • Roboflyers (running time: 12:50) - College students race their flying robots at the Aerial Robotics Competition. The activities challenge you to build and race your own lighter-than-air vehicles.

  • Viewer Challenge -- After you watch "Flying High," test your viewing skills with ten questions about the show!


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.