Section 1, Lesson 1
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Flight Controls

Flight Controls

Thinking of turning in airplane in simple terms of “turn the yoke left, go left” can sound nice, but is an oversimplified understanding of the aerodynamic forces at play. Pilots will fly more quickly, more precisely and have more fun in the process if they understand a few basic principles about how their flight controls work.

Lesson Notes

Flight controls are airfoils that we use to adjust the AOA of other airfoils. It’s relatively simple:

  • Ailerons (ay-leer-ons): Roll left/right
  • Elevator: Pitch up/down
  • Rudder: Yaw left/right

Generally speaking, airfoils moves opposite the direction of the flight control movement (i.e. if an aileron comes up that wing moves down).

In light training airplanes, flight controls are usually operated by a system of cables and pulleys.

Flashcard Questions

Which flight controls help us pitch? To roll? To yaw?

If an airplane rolls left, what do the ailerons do?

How to the elevators move to pitch down?

What moves the flight controls? How does movement of the flight controls happen from the pilot moving the stick/yoke?

A fellow pilot tells you that an airplane cannot be turned without an elevator or equivalent pitch flight control. In what way are they correct?

Theoretically speaking, if a flight control was moved too far or too abruptly, could it cause the flight surface to stall? Why do you think this is generally not a concern in light training airplanes?