vol·​plane | \ ˈväl-ˌplān How to pronounce volplane (audio) , ˈvȯl- \
volplaned; volplaning

Definition of volplane

intransitive verb

1 : to glide in or as if in an airplane

Did You Know?

Vol plané (meaning "gliding flight") was a phrase first used by 19th-century French ornithologists to describe downward flight by birds; it contrasted with "vol à voile" ("soaring flight"). Around the time Orville and Wilbur Wright were promoting their latest "aeroplane" in France, the noun and the verb "volplane" soared to popularity in America as terms describing the daring dives by aviators (Fly Magazine reported in 1910, "The French flyers are noted for their thrilling spirals and vol planes from the sky"). The avian-to-aviator generalization was fitting, since the Wright brothers had studied the flight of birds in designing their planes.

First Known Use of volplane

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for volplane

French vol plané gliding flight

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Cite this Entry

“Volplane.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/volplane. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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