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Plane Components

Front to rear walk around of aircraft:

  •  spinner or nose cone
  •  propeller
  •  landing light/s
  •  oil cooler or vents
  •  engine exhaust
  •  nose wheel and gear (under engine)
  •  engine cowling (bonnet/hood)
  •  fuselage (main body)
  •  cockpit canopy (roof over seating)
  •  radio (and GPS) antenna/s


  •  wing root
     the point where wing attaches to fuselage
  •  leading edge or front edge of wing
  •  trailing edge or the back or rear edge of wing
  •  wing flaps

the moveable section closest to fuselage

  •  aileron

the moveable section closest to wing tip

  • wing tip

the end of the wing that is away from the fuselage

  •  position lights - on wing tips

green light on the right or starboard tip

red light on the left or port tip

  •  landing gear is under body and wing area


  •  vertical stabiliser or fin

this is the upright or vertical section

  •  rudder

this is rear of the vertical stabiliser and is a moveable fin

  • horizontal stabiliser or tailplane

this is a flat bar across the rear

  • elevator

the flap at the rear of horizontal stabiliser

  •  trim tab

small flap on rear of horizontal stabiliser

  •  lights/beacons

red rotating beacon on front of horizontal stabiliser

white rear facing position light


Aircraft Attitude:

is the position of the aircraft in flight and the position of the nose in relation to the horizon,

e.g. high, low, tilted left or right

Control Surfaces:

is the moveable parts of the structure

e.g. elevators, ailerons, rudder, flaps, elevator trim tab


is the hinged section on the rear or trailing edge of the horizontal stabiliser

- is used to control pitching of nose upwards or downwards and is controlled by backward or forward movements of controls/yoke in the cockpit


is the hinged section on the outer trailing edge of each wing

- they control the rolling of the plane and are controlled by left and right movements of the controls/yoke


is the hinged section to the trailing edge of the fin or vertical stabiliser

- used to steer plane on the ground  and to balance the plane in the air and is controlled by foot pedals in the cockpit


these move downwards only and are a moveable section on the inner section of the wing

- they are operated by a dedicated manual lever or switch

- they move together and provide extra lift and a better forward/downward view for flight at low speeds

- mainly used in approach and landings

Elevator Trim Tab:

a small hinged surface on the horizontal stabiliser

- operated by trim wheel, handle or electronically by button/switch

- there can also be a elevator trim tab on the rudder and ailerons

- used to balance the elevator control force


Engine and Propeller Controls:

Lever or Knob Colours:

black      throttle

red          mixture control

white      carburettor heat

blue         propeller control for constant speed propeller


- generally operated by the right hand and it lends itself to the centre of dash area

- controls power (thrust) that is supplied by the engine and propeller combination

- "opening" the throttle is by means of pushing the knob forward as this increases the fuel/air supply to the engine and thus creating increased revolutions equaling greater power

- "closing" the throttle retards the fuel/air supply to the engine, it can reduce the power down to an idle RPM level and just like a car the aircraft will just idle

The levers listed above can also be push n pull knobs. The push/pull knobs are pushed "forward" or "inwards" for great power or propeller RPM. Some of these knobs have the capability for fine adjustments via "vernier" or a rotational facility and these finer adjustments can be made after the broader setting has been made.

The engine rotates the propeller and this in turn creates thrust to propel the plane. The power to the engine is controlled by the throttle and the throttle determines the amount of fuel to the engine. The propeller (either fixed or variable pitch blades) is driven directly by the engine. If the aircraft is fitted with a variable pitch propeller, there will be the extra lever in a blue colour and a gauge to display the manifold pressure. This gauge is usually located near to the RPM indicator or tachometer.



I am learning in aircraft that have a tricycle configuration landing gear. This consists of two main wheels and a nose wheel. The landing gear is fixed. There is other aircraft that don't have a nose wheel but have that wheel at the rear of the fuselage towards or under the tail and hence the term, "tail dragger". There is also aircraft with retractable undercarriage, where the lading gear is tucked up inside the fuselage.

The nose wheel is most aircraft is connected to the rudder pedals and these pedals help with the maneuverability of the aircraft on the ground. On most aircraft, the brakes are located on the main wheels and can be operated individually or together by pressing the top of the rudder pedals. The use of the brake can be useful in making turns on the ground by pressing down on one pedal and the aircraft will turn in that direction. So the pedals can have a dual purpose in many aircraft - steering and Differential braking equals steering of the nose wheel castors. There is usually also a separate park brake.