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The Private Pilot Flight Training Course 6

Updated on August 22, 2011

Secondary Effects of the Flying Controls


In the previous article we saw that there is a primary effect from using each of our main flight controls. But there are also secondary effects and these other effects can complicate our flying. So we must be aware of them take them into account.

For example, using the aileron causes the aircraft to roll. But it also has the effect of causing the aircraft to yaw.

Using the rudder has the primary effect of yawing the aircraft. But it also produces roll.

Finally, if you use the elevators, the aircraft will change its pitch. But it also has the secondary effect of altering the airspeed.

Let’s look at each in turn.


We will now demonstrate the secondary effect of ailerons which is yaw. You are flying the aircraft which is in straight and level flight and in balance.

First, take your feet off the rudder pedals.

Now gently move the control column to the left. The plane begins to roll to the left. But also notice that this causes sideslip. The aircraft is yawing towards the lower left wing. You can see this happening because the nose of the aircraft is dropping.

Take a few moments to visualise clearly these effects on the aircraft before moving on.


In this example, we’re going to demonstrate the secondary effect of using the rudder, which is to roll the aircraft. Once again, set the aircraft up in straight and level flight. It must also be in balance.

Now, take your hands off the control column and then apply some left rudder.

The aircraft first yaws to the left as we would expect, but then begins to roll, also to the left.

Again, spend some moments getting a clear picture in your mind of how the aircraft reacts. Finally, we shall look at the secondary effects of using the elevators.


We already know that the primary effect of using the elevators is to change the pitch of the aircraft. However, the secondary effect is to also alter our airspeed. Let’s take a look.

Set the aircraft up in straight and level flight and in balance.

Next, ease the control column forwards. The nose pitches down and you can see this through the windscreen by the horizon moving up.

Now, check your airspeed indicator. It will be increasing.

To recover, ease the control column back and you will notice that the nose of the aircraft pitches up. Look again at the airspeed indicator. This time it will be decreasing.

It is important to bear in mind that these effects will be present even if the aircraft is in another attitude such as climbing, banking or descending.

That concludes our look at the secondary effects of the main flying controls. In the next article, we will see how to Trim our aircraft.

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.

For further information on pilot training and details about how flight training DVDs can help you to reach your dream of becoming a pilot, go to


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