Aerodynamics: Construction Part 2

This is the second part of our three part series about aircraft construction, which will cover flight controls. You can learn about the fuselage, wings, and empennage here in Part 1. This excerpt comes from Bob Gardner‘s The Complete Private Pilot.

Flight Controls
Fore-and-aft movement of the control wheel or stick is transmitted by pushrods or cables and pulleys to these control surfaces, and left-right movement is controlled by the rudder, which is mounted at the rear of the vertical fin. The pilot depresses the rudder pedal in the desired direction of nose movement and a cable system moves the control surface. You will see V-Tails, T-tails, and straight tails, and maybe a home-built airplane with no horizontal surfaces mounted on the tail.

Flight Controls

The flight controls.

You won’t find many airplanes that do not have ailerons, which the moveable control surfaces at the outer trailing edge of the wings. Ailerons are used to bank the airplane. A control wheel or or stick at the pilot station is moved in the direction of the bank desired (left or right). The ailerons are deflected through a system of cables, pulleys, and bellcranks or pushrods. When no control forces is exerted, the ailerons are held flush with the wing surface by the airstream.

The hinged portions of the trailing edges of the wings near the fuselage are called flaps, and are normally used to steepen the glide angle without increasing airspeed. As you walk along the ramp you will see many different types of flaps, some that simply hinge down and others that extend down and backward. Older airplanes may not have any flaps at all.

Follow the Learn to Fly blog in the upcoming days to learn more about the Landing Gear, the Propeller and Engine, and the lights. You can purchase The Complete Private Pilot on our website at, which also contains even more resources for student pilots.

Check back on Monday for the final post in this series – Learn to Fly 9: Construction Part 3.

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