This comic is about the common teaching that an airfoil works because the air on top of the wing must travel faster to keep up with the air flowing across the bottom of the wing. They then will say that because the air on top of the wing is traveling faster it creates an area of lower pressure above the wing and it therefore goes up because the higher pressure below the wing pushes it up more than the low pressure above the wing is pushing it down. This is how many people think an airfoil works but it is not right. The next panel is a student asking why planes can fly upside down if that is true and the teacher thinks about it.
Then there are three different routes to take, the right one, the wrong one and the very wrong one. In the right one, the teacher realizes that perhaps the model is wrong and that the reason for why and airfoil works that she is teaching is wrong. She is curious about it and decides to study further. In the wrong panel, the teacher avoids the question and says that it's complicated, out of embarassment. In the very wrong panel, not only does the teacher avoid answering the question, she attempts to distract them by telling the kids that Santa Claus isn't real and that Santa Claus is really their parents, which would distress them to a point where they completely forget the question. It is cruel and unusual punishment for pointing out the teacher's ignorance.
The title text includes ways to debunk the reason for airfoils working that is taught. It points out that it is absurd to believe the air has to get across the airfoil's two sides in the same amount of time and also points out that the Wright brothers plane's wings were curved the same amount on both sides of the airfoil and therefore it wouldn't even have a difference in the distance the air needs to travel to get across the wing.
- >Handling a student who challenges your expertise with an insightful question:
- [There's a picture of the cross section of an airfoil, with an arrow above and below, pointing from right to left. Layered on top of these arrows, pointing up and down at the cross section, are a larger arrow below and a smaller arrow above.]
- (This panel just contains text, and has a speech curlique hanging towards the person in the next panel.)
- Teacher: So, kids, the air above the wing travels a longer distance, so it has to go faster to keep up. Faster air exerts less pressure, so :the wing is lifted upward.
- Student: But then why can planes fly upside down?
- (The teacher is standing, pondering the question. Three arrows point out of this panel, leading to each of the next three panels which are :arranged vertically.)
- (This is a label at the top of the panel, not a character speaking.)
- (This is the character speaking.)
- Teacher: Wow, good question! Maybe this picture is simplified -- or wrong! We should learn more.
- Teacher: It's... complicated.
- Teacher: And we need to move on.
- Very wrong:
- Teacher: Santa Claus is your parents.