Ask an Explainer


How does a Frisbee fly?


The spinning of a Frisbee and its shape are the main reasons it flies. As a Frisbee spins, it builds something called angular momentum. Momentum is the mass of an object times the speed it is moving. Angular momentum is when an object spins around to gain momentum – like your Frisbee! – instead of moving in a straight direction. The angular momentum gives the Frisbee stability and allows it to stay in the air and travel long distances through the air. This process allows the Frisbee to act as a gyroscope. Frisbees are shaped like an airfoil, which helps them generate lift. Lift can be explained by the Bernoulli principle. The right balance of angular momentum and lift is what allows a Frisbee to fly! To see how angular momentum is applied to objects other than Frisbees, check out the video at the top of this page about spinning disks in space.



Submit a Question
Categories: Aerodynamics