Flight Control Basics

All fixed wing aircraft, regardless of whether they are a powered plane or a glider are primarily guided through the air by what we call three axis controls. SoarAbility Motor Gliders fully conform to conventional design in this regard in that they consist of a flight control column or joystick and a pair of rudder pedals. The control column, normally held in the right hand, directly influences the roll and pitching moments of the aircraft whilst in flight through its movement both side to side and fore and aft respectively. The right and left rudder pedals are ordinarily operated by your feet and these control the yaw or sideways movement of the aircraft. When these controls are used together they permit balanced and coordinated turns or banks to be executed and assist the pilot to maintain a desired direction or heading.

If you are unable to use your feet for whatever reason then there is no need for concern: the yaw or rudder control mechanism fitted to the SoarAbility training aircraft and ground based simulator can also be operated by an approved modification to that particular control circuit. This consists of a lever operated by your left hand which controls the yaw movement through a mechanical linkage that interconnects with the rudder control circuit. Both the central control column and hand operated rudder controller are easy to use and have light flight loads. In consequence those with modest levels of upper torso mobility and or strength can fly the aircraft with ease. Given that the SoarAbility aircraft enjoys regular use by pilots who have limited or negligible lower limb mobility it is necessary to re-emphasise that there is no requirement to operate the foot pedals for the rudders as their action is replicated / replaced via the left hand controller and permits the pilot to exercise complete control of aircraft.

Last but not least, gliders by virtue of their unique design and large wing spans can glide a long way at very shallow angles relative to the ground and have low rates of descent. In order to increase the rate of descent and or reduce the glide angle so that you can land precisely where you want to, and when you want to: a mechanism called an airbrake is deployed during the approach and landing sequence to assist you with that routine. This airbrake, sometimes called a spoiler, is operated by a lever on the left hand side of the cockpit. In the SoarAbility training aircraft this lever has an additional modification that can hold its selected position, and thus control the rate of descent and approach angle whilst the hand rudder is being operated.

In this, the Schleicher glider manufacturers in Germany are unique in the world for designing an aircraft that provides a safe, flexible and fun platform for pilots of varying abilities.