There are some aircraft that can actually hover! They are called VTOL, or vertical take-off and landing, because they can vertically take off and land. VTOL aircraft do not require a runway to take off.
Another way planes can hover is if they are small enough or in the ultralight class and they face a stiff headwind to keep them in the air. But you can’t guarantee that there will always be a headwind.
Some well-known VTOL aircraft include the Yak 38 and the Harrier family of jets, such as the AV8A, and AV8C.
There are two primary ways airplanes and jets can hover: thrust vectoring or by means of a lift jet.
Thrust vectoring describes a mobile engine that can be manipulated during flight to provide upward or angular thrust. In other words, the jet engine can move to different angles or vectors and engage, propelling the jet in that direction.
Lift jets are jet engines that are angled which results in aerostatic lift. Aerostatic lift is lift achieved without the movement of air over a plane’s wing. It does not require forward momentum to hover the plane.
Jets, unlike helicopters, have fixed wings. Fixed wings mean the wings don’t move; these planes cannot hover on their own. They need the help of thrusters to do so.
Helicopters, on the other hand, have propellers that stabilize the aircraft, which allows them to hover with ease.
In contrast to VTOL aircraft, we have STOL: short takeoff and landing. These planes include the AAC Angel, Boeing YC-14, as well as bigger and wider aircraft built to carry several passengers. Some STOL aircraft can hover, which are known as STOVL: short take-off and vertical landing aircraft. But, most cannot under normal circumstances.
STOL aircraft can only appear to hover if they are flying into wind that’s blowing at the same speed the airplane is flying. This rarely happens naturally.
Can a Harrier jet hover?
Yes, a Harrier jet can hover. In fact, the entire Harrier family of jets can hover. They are vertical take-off and landing aircraft, or VTOL. Harrier jets use thrust vectoring. This means that its engines can twist and turn before engaging to propel the plane in any direction.
Can a Boeing 747 hover?
No, the Boeing 747 cannot hover because it is not a VTOL aircraft. A Boeing 747 can only appear to hover. But, for the Boeing 747 to appear to hover, the wind would have to be strong enough to match its speed. This is not likely, especially during landing or low altitudes where the wind is not as strong.
Can the F-22 hover?
Yes, the F-22 fighter jet can hover, land vertically, and take off vertically. The F-22 is a thrust vectoring aircraft, so it uses mobile engines that propel it in any direction.
Can the F-35 hover?
The F-35 fighter jet, like the F-22, can hover. It is a STOVL aircraft, or short take-off and vertical landing. A STOVL aircraft like the F-35 can clear a 50-foot obstacle with 1,500 feet of runway. It can also take off and land vertically.