One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A controlled dive or downward flight at a steep angle, especially by an aeroplane with the engine shut off.
- ‘In 1891 the engineer Otto Lilienthal executed the first safe and repeatable volplanes in history.’
no object, with adverbial of direction (of an aeroplane) make a steep controlled dive or downward flight.‘we watched the huge birds volplaning in’
- ‘Higher and higher climbed the starlings, still maintaining tight formation, until the hawk, seeming to realize the futility of its effort, turned and volplaned to earth.’
- ‘It volplanes - glides - through means of loose skin along either side of its body.’
- ‘The sugar glider is one of a number of volplaning possums in Australia.’
- ‘Then he shut off the motor and volplaned to earth, to the no small astonishment of the surgeon.’
- ‘Although their aerial adaptation looks rather clumsy and primitive by comparison with the highly specialised limbs of birds and bats, Sugar Gliders can volplane for a surprisingly long distance - flights have been measured at over 50 metres - and steer effectively by curving one or other of the gliding membranes.’
Early 20th century: from French vol plané, literally ‘glided flight’.
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