# Flight Controls. Control The Wright Brothers described flight in three axes roll, pith and yaw.

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1 Flight Controls The Wright Brothers were engineers first, pilots second. Introduction We have learned about the four forces that act on an airplane. The Wright Brothers were the first to fly because they were brilliant engineers; they were brave (they were test pilots after all), and they persevered. Maybe the most important factor in their success was that they recognized flight s real challenge was control and stability. Control The Wright Brothers described flight in three axes roll, pith and yaw. Roll Roll describes the rotation of the wings along the longitudinal axis (nose to tail). The ailerons control roll by increasing lift on one side of the wing and decreasing lift on the other side of the wing. Unfortunately, this also causes the nose of the airplane to turn in the opposite direction of the roll or bank. A nose turning the wrong way is called adverse yaw. We use the rudder to counteract adverse yaw and point the nose in the same direction as the bank. ROLL 32

2 Pitch Pitch describes the plane s nose moving up and down. Think of a boat pitching in the ocean. The elevator the part of the horizontal tail section that moves up or down controls the pitch of the airplane. Pitch also impacts the angle of attack of the wing. PITCH Yaw Yaw describes the plane rotating left or right. The rudder the part of the vertical tail section that moves left or right controls yaw. The rudder also prevents adverse yaw. We will learn about adverse yaw in a moment. YAW Let s look at a plane on a runway. By moving our mouse around the cursor, we will see the movement of the control surfaces on the airplane. The pilot uses these control surfaces (ailerons, elevator, and rudder) to control the airplanes in the three axes roll, pitch, and yaw) 33

3 Test Piloting We are going to take a closer look at the movable control surfaces on the airplane. 1. Click on settings and follow these Quick- Flight Setup instructions. Airport: LOWI Takeoff: Runway 08 Aircraft: Cessna 172P Time: 8:00 Weather: Clear 2. Click X to return to the runway. 3. Press A and use the arrow keys so you are looking from directly behind the airplane. 4. Click on the cross and move your cursor down. Observe the parts of the airplane that move. Move your cursor up, left, and then right. Be sure to observe which surfaces move on the wings and the tail. Otherwise, the airplane should be sitting still on the runway. Investigative Questions If I move my cursor down (decreasing pitch), what does the elevator do on the tail? If I move my cursor up (increasing pitch), what does the elevator do on the tail? If I move my cursor left (rolling left), what does the rudder do on the tail? If I move my cursor left (rolling left), what happens to the left wing and to the right wing? If I move my cursor right (rolling right), what happens to the left wing and to the right wing? Stability Stability describes the tendency of the airplane to return to its original condition after a disturbance. For example, if a gust of wind pitches the airplane up, a stable airplane will react by pitching down. If the plane is unstable, the plane will continue to pitch up instead of returning to its original condition. Let me try to explain this in another way. Why does an arrow have feathers on its tail? The head of the arrow is heavy and sharp and does the damage. What do the feathers do? Shoot 34

4 an arrow without feathers, and very quickly the arrow is traveling sideways out of control because any disturbance (wind, rain, etc.) causes the arrow to change direction. Add feathers and the arrow flies straight. This is because the feathers dampen the effects of any disturbance helping the arrow fly straight. The feathers give the arrow stability by keeping the tail in the back. The tail of the airplane acts like the feathers on an arrow. The tail (horizontal and vertical stabilizers) gives the plane stability. What if the pilot had worked all day before embarking on a late night flight? On a stormy night? When tired? The point of stability is to reduce the pilot s workload and make it easier to fly the aircraft. The pilot wants to be able to look down at a map or let go of the controls for a second to adjust the microphone without the plane s trying to roll inverted due to a gust of wind or bump of turbulence. Engineers design stability into aircrafts. They recognize that no amount of pilot control can overcome an inherently unstable airplane. We will look at two important examples of ways we can increase the stability of an airplane. Roll and Yaw Stability Many airplanes incorporate a dihedral angle in the wings. Look below, and you will see several wings. Notice the wings are higher at the tips than where they join the fuselage. Dihedral helps to keep a plane s wings level. For example, a gust of wind causes a plane to roll, dropping the left wing down and raising the right wing up. Dihedral causes the lower wing to rise and the higher wing to sink, restoring stability to the flight path. 35

5 Pitch Stability Imagine the airplane as a teeter- totter. The nose of the airplane is at one end of the teeter- totter, and the tail is at the other end. The fulcrum or balancing point of our airplane/teeter- totter is the wing. The distance between the tail and the wing can be thought of as a lever arm that acts like a teeter- totter. We can control the pitch of the airplane by varying the amount of force applied to the tail. In physics, the application of force to rotate an object about a fulcrum is called torque. You have already learned and experienced changing the pitch of the airplane using the elevator, the part of the horizontal tail section that moves up or down. We can also increase pitch by adding a force (like weight) to the end of the tail. This newly added force multiplied by the distance from the end of the tail to the wing would cause the nose to pitch up! We need the plane to be stable, so we locate the C.O.G in front of the wing and put the tail behind the wing. The C.O.G pushes down pitching the nose down and the tail pushes down which holds the nose up making the plane stable. Let s look at these forces in action. 36

6 Test Piloting 1. Follow these Quick- Flight Setup instructions. Airport: LOWI Final Approach: 3 NM (This will start you in the air.) Aircraft: Cessna 172P Time: 8:00 Weather: Clear 2. Press the / twice to bring up the lift vectors. 3. Establish level flight. Gently climb up, and dive down several times. Investigative Questions In which directions are the lift vectors pointing on the wing as the plane dives? In which directions are the lift vectors pointing on the tail as the plane dives? Is the lift created by the tail the same in all flying situations level, dive, and climb? Would I achieve the same result if I added weight to the tail? If so, why don t we add weight to the tail? The Importance Of Balance And Safe Flying The load and balance of an airplane are very important to safe flying. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, a small airplane crashed in Africa when a crocodile got loose on board the plane. It seems that an animal smuggler had stored a crocodile in his luggage. The croc got loose, causing the passengers to panic and run to the front of the airplane. In spite of the pilot s pulling desperately on the controls, the plane pitched downward and crashed. Luckily, this is a very rare incident. On every flight, pilots make sure the plane is loaded and balanced properly with all items properly secured. 37

7 Climbing Higher Airplanes, Teeter- totters, and Torque As we said earlier, torque is the application of force to rotate an object about a fulcrum. To better understand how torque impacts airplanes, let s take a closer look at a teeter- totter. These two frogs are sharing a teeter- totter. I guess the frog pond was getting a bit dull. The frog on the left side weighs 5 lbs and is 2 ft from the fulcrum (triangle). This frog produces 10 ft- lbs of torque or moment. 5 lbs x 2 ft = 10 ft- lbs. Let s calculate the torque or moment of the frog on the right. The weight of the frog on the right = 10lbs The distance of the frog on the right = 1ft Torque or moment = Isn t that cute? Both frogs are producing the same amount of torque. What does this mean? Will the teeter totter rotate clockwise or counterclockwise? Please explain your anwer. 38

8 What about a frog that weighs 2 lbs? How far would this frog need to be from the fulcrum to produce 10ft- lbs of torque or moment? What about a hefty 20 lb frog? How far would this frog need to be from the fulcrum to produce 10 ft- lbs of torque or moment? Another frog is sitting 2.5 ft away from the fulcrum. How much does this frog weigh if she is producing 10 ft- lbs of torque or moment? If you solved those problems, you have a pretty good understanding of both teeter- totters and torque. Now, let s return to airplanes. In reality, there are several moment arms at work here in the airplane, but for our purposes, we are going to simplify the situation and assume that two lever or moment arms are impacting the pitch stability. The distance from the wing to the Center Of Gravity (C.O.G) is the C.O.G Moment Arm. C.O.G Moment Arm multiplied by the Airplane Weight will give us the C.O.G. Torque or C.O.G. Moment. C.O.G Moment = C.O.G Moment Arm X Airplane Weight The C.O.G. Moment always tries to rotate the aircraft s nose down. The tail must counteract the C.O.G. Moment to hold the nose up. 39

9 The distance from the wing to the tail is the Tail Moment Arm. The Tail Moment Arm multiplied by the force generated by negative lift will give us the Tail Torque or Tail Moment. Tail Moment = Tail Moment Arm X Lift Generated By Tail The C.O.G. Moment equals the Tail Moment when the nose is NOT pitching up or down, but will it will be in equilibrium. If the plane is pitching up, which is greater the C.O.G Moment or the Tail Moment? If the plane is pitching down, which is greater the C.O.G Moment or the Tail Moment? 40

11 Flight Establish and maintain level flight for 3 second. Use the Vertical Speed Indicator to help you determine level flight. Record the Elevator Deflection appearing in the cockpit window (You do not need to review the graph). Repeat three times. Please complete the following table. Center Of Gravity (- 17.3) and Elevator Deflection Trial Center of Gravity Elevator Deflection Average Deflection N/A N/A N/A Average Set the Center Of Gravity to 22.1 inches and repeat the flight three times as before and complete the following table. Center Of Gravity (22.1) and Elevator Deflection Trial Center of Gravity Elevator Deflection Average Deflection N/A N/A N/A Average Investigative Questions Which Center Of Gravity (COG) resulted in the greatest elevator deflection? If I added even more payload weight, would that be the equivalent of increasing the COG Moment? Please explain your answer? 42

12 Tail Moment Arm Questions Please answer the following questions using these drawings. Airplane A Airplane B Airplane C The amount of lift generated by the tail is the same for all three airplanes. True of False? Why? Which of the three airplanes has the longest Tail Moment Arm? Which of the three airplanes has the largest Tail Moment? Which of the three airplanes has the lowest Tail Moment? Why? 43

Teacher Edition Written By Tom Dubick TABLE OF CONTENTS First Flight... 3 May The Force(s) Be With You... 9 Lift A Real Pick Me Up... 17 What a Drag, Man... 23 Thrust It s All About Altitude... 29 Flight

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