Thanks Darren for the thoughtful comment!
Loving your real-time reasoning. Let me know how you like the other article!
Actually, I don't think the aerodynamic forces governing flight are so different from the "mental forces" governing the brain. As you say, there's no evidence of a unique type of matter or energy in the brain.
The main difference between our understanding of flight and our understanding of the mind lies in three things.
First, the access we have to the underlying principles behind the reality we can observe and measure. In the case of flight, we had very good tools to extract patterns and test hypotheses. Eventually, as you say, we established the A, B, C requirements for a plane to fly. In the case of the brain and the mind, we don't measure "thinking." We can measure changes in oxygen in the blood, bioelectrical activity, and other things. We don't measure directly mental states. The behavior we observe in people can't be measured directly with our tools, a limitation that doesn't appear in flight.
Acting consciously is not the same as being conscious. Searle's Chinese Room experiment is a good explanation of that.
Second, the limitations to conducting experiments. We can't simply take voluntaries and open their heads to see what's inside. The moral and ethical limitations in neuroscience are vast, which slows down progress and understanding - but for good reasons.
Third, our cognitive limits. We can understand a lot of things, but why would anyone assume we can understand all there is? There are things certainly out of our reach, like understanding 10 spatial dimensions. Quantum mechanics and general relativity are notoriously hard to understand because we didn't evolve perceiving them. We're not that special in terms of cognitive capacity and I'd argue the so-called hard problem of consciousness is an instance of something we won't understand - and it's central to understanding intelligence and human behavior.