- Thrust—the forward force produced by the powerplant/ propeller or rotor. It opposes or overcomes the force of drag. As a general rule, it acts parallel to the longitudinal axis. However, this is not always the case, as explained later.
- Drag—a rearward, retarding force caused by disruption of airflow by the wing, rotor, fuselage, and other protruding objects. Drag opposes thrust, and acts rearward parallel to the relative wind.
- Weight—the combined load of the aircraft itself, the crew, the fuel, and the cargo or baggage. Weight pulls the aircraft downward because of the force of gravity. It opposes lift, and acts vertically downward through the aircraft’s center of gravity (CG).
- Lift—opposes the downward force of weight, is produced by the dynamic effect of the air acting on the airfoil, and acts perpendicular to the flightpath through the center of lift.
- The sum of all upward forces (not just lift) equals the
- The sum of all forward forces (not just thrust) equals
During straight-and-level flight when thrust is increased and the airspeed increases, the AOA must be decreased. That is, if changes have been coordinated, the aircraft will remain in level flight, but at a higher speed when the proper relationship between thrust and AOA is established.