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The Private Pilot Flight Training Course 5

Updated on August 31, 2011

Primary Effects of the Flying Controls

As we saw in the previous article, there are 3 main flight controls;-

the Elevators,

the Ailerons and


Each of them has a primary effect on an aircraft’s movement and they are controlled by the pilot using the control column and the rudder pedals. In this article, we will look at the primary effect of each main flying control.

From now on, to help you understand how to fly a plane up to the standard of a Private Pilot, you will imagine that you are sitting in the cockpit as the student pilot and I will take you through each Flight Exercise.

Okay, so you’re flying your aircraft in straight and level flight. Always remember to keep a good look out for other traffic. Throughout these articles you will hear me repeat little instructions such as this. These are things you must make a part of your flying skills at all times; they should become second nature to you and indicate that you are displaying a high level of good airmanship. Let's start with the elevators.


The primary effect of the elevators is to pitch the aircraft up or down. When demonstrating most of the flight exercises, the aircraft is first set up in balance with the attitude set in Straight and Level flight. To achieve this balance and to fly an aircraft in straight and level flight will be the subject of a future article.

Okay, to demonstrate the primary effect of the elevators, first smoothly and gently move the control column forwards. The nose pitches down and you can see this by a change in the horizon in front of you; it has moved up the windshield.

Hold this new attitude and look at your Airspeed Indicator. It is increasing.

Now, smoothly and gently move the control column towards you and notice that the nose pitches up. Hold this new attitude and observe that your airspeed is now decreasing.

This then is the primary effect of the elevators.

Control Column Forward – Nose Pitches Down – Airspeed Increases

Control Column Back – Nose Pitches Up – Airspeed Decreases


We’ll now look at the primary effect of using the ailerons. So once again imagine you are in the cockpit and you have the aircraft flying straight and level and in balance. Keep a good look out.

Now, smoothly and gently turn the control column to the left and notice that the aircraft rolls to the left.

Then centre the control column and observe that the roll stops and that the aircraft continues at the same angle of bank.

To return to straight and level flight, simply rotate the control column this time, to the right. The aircraft now begins to roll to the right.

When the wings become level, centralise the control column again. The roll stops and you are back in straight and level flight. If you are slightly out, make small adjustments until you get back to straight and level.

As part of your training, you will practice this manoeuvre for both left and right turns.


Finally, we shall investigate the primary effect of using the rudder. And the primary effect of the rudder is to yaw the aircraft. To demonstrate this, once again imagine you are in straight and level flight with the aircraft in balance.

First, select a reference point on the horizon. Next smoothly and gently apply some left rudder. The nose of the aircraft will yaw to the left. For confirmation, look at the Ball within the Turn Co-Ordinator and notice that it has moved over to the right.

Now centralise the rudder pedals and notice that the aircraft returns to its original attitude. Remember to practice this manoeuvre by yawing to both the left and right.

It is also important to note that the same primary effects apply to the aircraft even if it is not flying straight and level. So practice these exercises whilst in turns to the right and left.

That covers the primary effects of the main flying controls. In the next article, we shall explore the secondary effects of these flight controls.

The author, John Pullen has been a professional writer and producer of factual media programmes for over 25 years and a pilot for over 20 years.

The key to successful pilot training is preparation. Background reading of flight manuals is very important, but there is also another way. Flight Training DVDs are now available to take the aspiring pilot from their first lesson right through the Private Pilot’s Licence to the Commercial Instrument Rating. Each DVD follows the JAA syllabus completely. For further information on pilot training and details about how this series of flight training DVDs can help you to reach your dream of becoming a pilot, go to



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