Word of the Day : March 14, 2012

volplane

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verb VAHL-playn

Definition

1 : to glide in or as if in an airplane

2 a : to descend gradually in controlled flight

b : to fly in a glider

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.


Examples

An eagle soared and volplaned gracefully across the sky.

"Does it [the northern flying squirrel] really fly: No. It glides (or "volplanes") and always in a downward direction. - From an article by Nicholas Read in The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia), October 18, 2008



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