A wing is a type of fin with a surface that produces aerodynamic force for flight or propulsion through the atmosphere, or through another gaseous or liquid fluid. As such, wings have an airfoil shape, a streamlined cross-sectional shape producing lift.
The word “wing” from the Old Norse vængr for many centuries referred mainly to the foremost limbs of birds (in addition to the architectural aisle.) But in recent centuries the word’s meaning has extended to include lift producing appendages of insects, bats, pterosaurs, boomerangs, some sail boats and aircraft, or the inverted airfoil on a race car that generates a downward force to increase traction.
Various species of penguins and other flighted or flightless water birds such as auks, cormorants, guillemots, shearwaters, eider and scoter ducks and diving petrels are avid swimmers, and use their wings to propel through water.
A wing’s aerodynamic quality is expressed as its lift-to-drag ratio. The lift a wing generates at a given speed and angle of attack can be one to two orders of magnitude greater than the total drag on the wing. A high lift-to-drag ratio requires a significantly smaller thrust to propel the wings through the air at sufficient lift. Read more