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Key Terms

Aerobatics
Precision maneuvers, such as barrel rolls, loops, hammerhead stalls, spins, and Cuban eights.
Often performed at airshows and competitions, many of these maneuvers are also part of a military
pilots training and can be used in aerial combat. In fact, many basic aerobatic maneuvers evolved
from air-combat tactics invented during World War I.
Aerobatics is also defined in Federal Aviation Regulation 91.303, which describes restrictions on
aerobatic flight. In that section, aerobatic flight means any intentional maneuver involving an
abrupt change in an aircrafts attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not
necessary for normal flight.
Ailerons
Movable control surfaces, usually located near the wing tips, that control the rolling motion of an
aircraft. The pilot deflects the ailerons by moving the control yoke or stick left and right. The
ailerons move simultaneously in opposite directions. For example, when the pilot moves the yoke
or stick left, the aileron on the left wing moves up, decreasing the lift on the left wing. At the same
time, the right aileron moves down, increasing the lift on the right wing. The word derives from the
French word aile, meaning wing.
Ceiling
The altitude at which an aircrafts best rate of climb drops to 100 feet per minute under standard
conditions.
Climb Out
The portion of a flight between takeoff and the initial cruising altitude.
Cruise Speed
The average speed of an aircraft during straight-and-level flight at normal power settings.
Drag
The resistance of an object to movement through a fluid. With respect to aircraft, drag is one of the
four fundamental forces in flight. It opposes thrust. There are two basic types of drag. Parasite drag
is caused by friction. The airplane surface, antennas, landing gear, and other appendages all
cause parasite drag, which increases in proportion to the square of the aircrafts velocity. Induced
drag is a byproduct of lift. At the tip of a wing, air moves from the high-pressure area below the
wing to the low-pressure area above. The energy used to create these vortexes manifests itself as
induced drag, which increases as airspeed drops.
Elevator
A movable control surface located on the horizontal stabilizer of an aircrafts tail. Although its name
implies that the elevator makes the airplane climb or descend, it actually controls only the aircrafts
pitch attitude, that is, the angle of the nose above or below the horizon. The pilot moves the
elevator by applying forward pressure on the control to decrease pitch attitude and by applying
back pressure to increase the pitch attitude.

Fixed-Wing Aircraft
An aircraft with stable wings that deflect air current to create lift.
Flaps
A hinged portion of an airplanes wing, generally on the trailing edge, that can be lowered during
takeoff and landing to increase the lift and drag of the wings. When partially extended, a flap adds
lift by increasing the curvature of the wing. Because flaps extend into the oncoming air, they also
increase drag, helping an aircraft descend steeply without building up speed. Often confused with
ailerons, flaps are not the primary control surfaces of an airplane.
Flare
To level off and establish the correct landing attitude just above the runway prior to landing. A pilot
flares by applying back pressure to the control yoke or stick, which raises the nose of the aircraft.
When done properly, the flare is a smooth, continuous transition from a nose-low, descending flight
path to a nose-high attitude that almost stops the aircrafts descent.
Gs
A measurement of the load factor, or apparent gravity, experienced by an aircraft during flight. One
G represents the force of gravity exerted on a body at rest. When an aircraft climbs, turns, or
accelerates, positive G forces act upon it. When it descends or decelerates, negative G forces act
upon it.
Glide Ratio
Ratio of horizontal distance traveled per unit of descent. For example, a sailplane with a 60:1 glide
ratio travels 60 meters forward for every 1 meter it descends. A typical single-engine aircraft has a
glide ratio of about 10:1.
Glide Speed (VBG)
A V-speed indicating the optimal speed for gliding as far as possible with the engine off.
Glide Slope
The electronic approach path projected as part of an instrument landing system (ILS). Glide slope
transmitters, located near the end of a runway, send out radio signals to form the proper descent
path to the runway. The angle of the glide slope is usually set at about 3 degrees to the horizontal.
GUMPS
An acronym pilots use to remember a typical pre-landing checklist. GUMPS stands for Gas,
Undercarriage, Mixture, Propeller, Seat Belts, and Switches.
Heading
The direction in which the aircraft is pointed, usually in reference to magnetic north. Because wind
pushes an airplane in flight, heading does not necessarily correspond to the aircrafts path over the
ground, that is, its track. For example, if you want to fly due east with respect to the ground and the
wind is blowing from the north, you must turn the aircraft slightly into the wind to correct for drift.

Instrument Landing System (ILS)


A system of navigation aids and approach lights that provide both horizontal and vertical guidance
to aircraft approaching a runway.
The ILS is the primary precision-approach system in use today around the world. A typical ILS
includes a localizer and a glide slope, as well as outer, middle, and inner marker beacons. The
localizer transmits a directional signal that provides left/right guidance. The glide slope is an
electronic glide path that defines the proper descent angle to the runway. Marker beacons indicate
distance from the runway.
Knots
Nautical miles per hour. Abbreviation: kt, kts, or KTS. One nautical mile (nm or NM) measures
6,076 feet (1,852 meters). This distance is based on the length of one minute of arc of a great
circle - an arc representing the shortest distance between two points on a globe. One knot equals
about 1.15 statute miles per hour. Therefore, 100 knots equals about 115 mph (185 kilometers per
hour), 150 knots equals about 172 mph (278 kilometers per hour), and 200 knots equals about 230
mph (370 kilometers per hour). All speeds filed on flight plans and for air traffic control purposes
are in knots. Note Knots by definition assumes per hour. You should never state speed as
knots per hour.
Low Pass
A brief, low altitude flyover. Pilots perform low passes to notify people on the ground theyre circling
back for a landing. Jet fighter pilots often perform low pass flyovers during airshows to demonstrate
aircraft control at extremely high speeds.
Manifold Pressure Gauge
An instrument that measures the air pressure in the intake manifold of a piston engine. Usually
calibrated in inches of mercury, this instrument (really a barometer) is used in combination with the
tachometer to set engine power. Most small training aircraft have only a tachometer. Aircraft with
larger engines and aircraft with constant-speed propellers usually have manifold pressure gauges.
Master Switch
Along with the mixture and propeller, the master switch controls the battery and the alternator,
which comprise an aircrafts electrical power system.
Mixture Control
A device for controlling the ratio between fuel and air entering an engines carburetor or fuel
injection system. In most aircraft, the mixture control is a push-pull knob or lever marked in red,
usually located to the right of the throttle.
Because aircraft engines operate over a wide range of altitudes, the pilot must adjust the mixture to
produce the most efficient fuel/air mixture as an airplane climbs into less dense air or descends
into more dense air. A mixture that is too rich contains too much fuel for the existing conditions and
causes the engine to run rough and lose power.
A mixture that is too lean can cause an engine to overheat or can cause detonationthe sudden,
explosive combustion of fuel within the cylinders.
Nautical Mile
A distance of about 6,076 feet (1,852 meters). The nautical mile is based on the length of one
minute of arc of a great circle. In aviation, distances and speeds are measured in nautical miles
(nm) and nautical miles per hour (knots).

Non directional Radio Beacon


A radio beacon that transmits non directional signals in the low frequency or medium-frequency
band (190535 kHz). Today it is used primarily for NDB non precision approaches and in
conjunction with the outer marker component of an ILS. An automatic direction finder (ADF) points
to these beacons.
Paint Scheme
Exterior design and color, usually applied to the body, wings, and tail of the aircraft.
Payload
The total weight of passengers, fuel, and cargo an aircraft can carry.
Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI)
A lighting system located beside the runway that visually guides the pilot onto the glide slope.
There are four units, each containing two lights. Red lights indicate the aircraft is too low and white
lights indicate the aircraft is too high. The proper glide slope is two white lights and two red lights.
Rate of Climb
The speed, usually measured in feet per minute, at which an aircraft is climbing. The term is
sometimes stretched to include the rate of descent. The rate of climb is read on the vertical speed
indicator (VSI).
Rotation Speed (VR)
A V-speed rating that indicates when to pull back on the controller to rotate the aircraft, causing it to
lift off the runway during takeoff.
Rudder
A movable control surface usually mounted on the vertical stabilizer of the tail. The rudder moves
the aircraft about its vertical, or yaw, axis. It does not, however, turn the airplane. It is used
primarily to balance forces in turns and to counteract yawing motions induced by the propeller
during flight. A pilot moves the rudder by applying pressure to the left or right rudder pedal. The
pedals are mounted on the floor of the cockpit. In normal maneuvering, the pilot uses simultaneous
aileron and rudder pressures to maintain balanced or coordinated flight.
Stall Speed
A V-speed rating that indicates the lowest possible airspeed needed to maintain even flight for any
given altitude. In many aircraft, the airspeed indicator features a color-coded system that tells you
the stall speed with the flaps retracted and with the flaps extended for landing.
Stick
A tubular control in some aircraft, usually between the pilots knees, used to control the aircraft
about its roll and pitch axis, ailerons, and elevator respectively (same function as a yoke).

Taildragger
An aircraft that has its main wheels mounted ahead of the center of gravity and a small pivoting or
steerable wheel supporting the back end of the fuselage. There is no nose wheel, as with tricyclegear aircraft. Taildraggers were the norm during the early years of aviation and are sometimes
referred to as conventional-gear aircraft. They are trickier to handle on the ground than tricyclegear aircraft and require special training and skill.
Takeoff Run
The distance from the takeoff point to where the wheels lift off the runway. Pilots often fly into the
direction of the wind to reduce the ground speed and distance needed to lift off the runway.
Throttle
The cockpit control that most directly determines the power output of the engine. In a piston
engine, the throttle actually controls the amount of air entering the carburetor or induction system.
The carburetor, or fuel metering system, mixes the appropriate amount of fuel with the air to create
a combustible mixture. When fully open, the throttle allows the maximum amount of air to enter
the system to produce maximum power. When the throttle is closed, only a small amount of air
enters the system and the engine produces minimum power.
Touch-and-Go
A landing operation where the pilot lands the aircraft on the runway
and takes off again without coming to a full stop.
Trim
To adjust a movable tab on a control surface, usually the elevator, to relieve pressure on the flight
controls. Trim is necessary because, as an aircraft changes speed, the amount of air flowing over
the control surfaces varies. Without trim, a pilot would have to hold forward or back pressure on the
yoke or column to maintain a specific airspeed or pitch attitude. Larger aircraft also have aileron
and rudder trim.
Trainer Aircraft
A type of aircraft used in flight instruction. Trainers are often two seaters with tandem controls and
simplified instrument panels.
Velocity Speeds (V-Speeds)
A set of suggested velocity speed settings to optimize performance under a variety of different
circumstances.
V1
Takeoff decision speed. The speed at which it may not be possible to stop the aircraft on the
runway in case of a rejected takeoff (RTO).
V2
Minimum takeoff safety speed for a multi-engine aircraft. The minimum safe flying speed should an
engine fail immediately after takeoff.

Visual Approach Slope Indicator (VASI)


A lighting system that indicates an aircrafts position relative to the desired glide slope on a
particular runway. This system uses two or three sets of lights on both sides of the runway to
visually guide a pilot onto the glide slope. The pilot is on the glide slope if the first set of lights is
white and the second red. The pilot is flying too high if both sets are white and flying too low if both
sets are red.
Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR)
A ground-based radio transmitter that sends signals in 360 radials. Some of these radials define
airways, but pilots can track any radial to fly a specific path over the ground.
Wingspan
The distance from one wing tip to the other.
Yaw
Movement of an aircraft about its vertical axis, as when the nose turns left or right. Along with roll
and pitch, yaw is one of an airplanes three basic movements. The vertical stabilizer and rudder are
designed to control yaw.
Yoke
The steering wheel-like control connected to the ailerons and elevator. A pilot turns the yoke to
move the ailerons and bank the wings. The pilot moves the yoke forward and back to move the
elevator, which lowers and raises the nose. Some airplanes have a stick or joystick instead of a
control yoke.