Propellers are, single-handedly, the most noticeable part on an aircraft. Using energy from the engine to spin, the aircraft propeller is used to create thrust by rotation.
Depending on the type of aircraft, the propeller can look very differently. The number of blades increases as the size of the aircraft engine increases, to ensure proper power distribution. And, propeller blades can vary in material, such as wood, fiberglass, composites, and metals, depending on how strong or durable they have to be.
The propeller can be thought of as a spinning wing with a bit of a twist. The twist(pitch) creates high and low pressure on each side of the blade allowing for thrust to be created. Originally propellers were fixed, meaning the propeller had only one pitch setting available. As the propeller was further developed, adjustable pitch propellers were introduced. As of today, there is a multitude of options in propellers with variating pitch.
Lateral axis pitch can be thought of as a screw into a wall. The varying pitch would be based on the rotation you spin the screw. For a propeller, the variable pitch allows for greater performance because the propeller is able to adjust its pitch to varying wind conditions, desired airspeed, and even reverse thrust, which is used on larger aircraft when landing. Adjustable pitch propellers include ground adjustment, two-position, full feathering, controlled pitch adjustment, and automatic pitch adjustment (constant speed). Full feathering is an added safety feature in which the pitch can be adjusted to align with the wind to produce minimal drag. The pitch can be changed by the use of hydraulics or an electric pitch mechanism controlled by a governor.
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