March 2008 Issue


Effectively using the secondary flight controls means we first have to learn using the primary ones.

Like most student pilots, I tended to fly with the type of casual élan my primary instructor described, none too deferentially, with the term "death grip." Then somewhere along the way came my first introduction to that little knurled disk, which is usually just called the trim wheel. Trim? Huh? What’s that? What does it do? How does it work? How is it used? It’s nothing miraculous, really. Just think back to your childhood. If you were like me and many other airplane-crazy kids, when you built a balsa wood glider and you started flying it, what’s the first thing you adjusted? You adjusted its surfaces’ balance and deflection so it would fly the way you wanted it to, that’s what. Unlike what you’re doing today, there was no little man or woman in there jockeying the controls. Instead, the slots in the fuselage within which one could adjust the forward or aft position of the wings and horizontal stabilizer was strictly a hands-off affair. If you’re younger, and your glider was made of that new-fangled plastic foam, you might have had the luxury of "bendable" control surfaces. Same idea; different solution.

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