• A controlled dive or downward flight at a steep angle, especially by an airplane with the engine shut off.


  • (Of an airplane) Make a controlled dive or downward flight, especially with the engine shut off.

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Example Sentences

“The daring pilots at the air show wowed the crowd by successfully volplaning.”

“In order to quickly reduce altitude, the plane tilted into a volplane.”

“John was required to perform a textbook volplane as part of his flight certification.”

Word Origin

French, early 20th century

Why this word?

The word “volplane” comes directly from the French “vol plané,” literally meaning “glided flight.” Originally used to describe the downward flight of birds, it’s now almost exclusively used in reference to planes. But a volplane is not a move you’ll feel on a standard commercial flight. In November 1916, aviatrix Ruth Law broke the existing American cross-country and nonstop record with her nonstop flight from Chicago to New York state. Due to low fuel, she was forced to volplane for the final 3 miles of her flight over Manhattan, where she eventually made a safe landing on Governors Island.

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