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The first Flight Night Electric Airshow at the Portola Valley Town Center showcased high-tech radio-controlled model planes and helicopters.
A crowd of at least 100 stood on the sidelines of the soccer field on Thursday evening, May 19, as plane owners took turns launching and flying their crafts.
The take-offs and landings tended to be uneventful, unlike the actual flying.
Many craft hovered in front of the crowd, maneuvering in directions impossible for full sized aircraft.
One airplane, for example, hung three feet above the grass with its nose pointed directly down, its propeller rotating in the ordinary way. This plane and the others with wings could also fly upside down with ease and seemingly continuously.
Even the helicopters could fly upside down. There was also at least one helicopter-like flying machine that, with its four rotating propellers and no cockpit, has no counterpart in the full-sized world.
One explanation for the agility (given to a reporter but not in detail) is that air behaves differently in supporting planes of this size. Evidence of this difference is easy to spot in that many of the planes had completely flat wings.
A normal aircraft has wings that are curved on the upper side. This curvature requires the air passing over the top of the wing to travel a longer distance to rejoin the air beneath the wing. The air pressure is thus lower over the wing. The normal air pressure under the wing raises the plane, a phenomenon known as lift.
Model planes apparently don't need a curved wing to create lift.