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"Helicopters, on the other hand, don't appear to accelerate a large mass of air towards the Earth, or do they? "I always assumed that was exactly what the big fan on the roof was for.
The usual explanation of how wings work ( Bernoulli's equation- curved upper surface .. yadda yadda) doesn't work, since you can fly planes upside down until the pilot gets a nosebleed.I have yet to see any "wing" that isn't used with a significant angle of attack. I still think it's a big fan on the roof.