Effect of Controls: Ailerons

Ailerons control roll.

The objective of this lesson is to demonstrate the primary effect of the ailerons and how we roll the glider.

Learning Points

The ailerons are controlled by the sideways movement of the stick, and cause the glider to roll. Rolling will cause the glider to change direction, so before we roll, we must always lookout to avoid meeting another glider! This is a priority in real life, and remains important in Condor if you are flying with others.

When looking straight ahead over the nose in the normal attitude, the horizon will be symmetrical with the edges of the canopy. This tells us the wings are level, and confirms we are flying straight. If the wings were not level, the horizon would not be symmetrical on either side of the canopy, and we wouldn’t be flying straight.

So to roll left, we firstly check it is clear, then look ahead over the nose of the glider, and then move the stick to the left. As the stick is moved left, the left wing goes down. It will continue to go down until we centralise the stick again. The glider will now be banked, and therefore turning, even with the stick centralised as in level flight. As we bank, the nose will tend to go down a bit. We therefore need to apply a gentle back pressure on the stick to maintain the attitude, ideally as we apply the bank.

To return to level flight, we must raise the (left) wing, which we do by moving the stick towards the upper wing (in this case, to the right). We centralise the stick as the wings come level. As they come level we also need to ease off the back pressure on the stick, to remain in the correct attitude.


The primary effect of ailerons. Video with voice over and animation.

Alternative Video without animation.

Video as seen in Condor Flight School, with messages displayed.
About the videos

Multiple versions of the videos are being made available:

  • With animation and voiceover.
  • Alternative without the animation graphics.
  • As recorded in Condor Flight School. These will have messages at the top of the screen, with no additional animation or voiceover – that’s the way the Condor cookie crumbles!

The videos are suited to any device that supports YouTube. If you have trouble loading the video in the browser, click on Watch on YouTube in the lower left corner.

Further Reading and References

Gliding From Passenger to Pilot, 2nd Edition: Pages 33-37, 85-88

BGA Instructors’ Manual, 4th Edition: Section 2, Chapter 7

BGA Instructors’ Reference Cards: Ex 5b

BGA Gliding Basics – Effects of Controls