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SCIENCE FILE An exploration of issues and trends affecting
science, medicine and the environment

I Didn't Know That . . .

May 13, 1999

Q: How does a Frisbee fly?

A: Just like an airplane. If you look at a Frisbee from the side, it has the same shape as the wing of an airplane. Air must travel farther over the top than past the bottom, producing diminished air pressure above the wing and, therefore, lift. The spinning of the Frisbee has nothing to do with its flight. Instead, like a gyroscope, the spinning stabilizes the Frisbee so that it remains level with the ground. You can demonstrate this for yourself by spinning a Frisbee in place. It will not rise.

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