Effect of Controls: Elevator

Elevator controls the glider’s pitch.

The objective of this lesson is to demonstrate the primary effect of the elevator.

Learning Points

The elevator is controlled by fore and aft movements of the stick. It is the most sensitive of the glider’s controls, and controls the Pitch of the glider. This in turn determines the Attitude, most easily described as the relationship of the glider’s nose to the horizon, or the amount of ground in view (ahead). It will also determine your speed through the air.

Gliders are laid out for the right-handed, so use your right hand to hold the stick. It is normal to hold the stick quite lightly – typically between the thumb and forefinger. There are times when you’ll need the full handful, in rough air perhaps, later in your training. The same applies when using a simulator joystick – you may want to rest your hand at the base of the stick, and practice moving it very gently.

So, in simple terms, when you ease the stick forward, do so gently. The nose will go down, and speed will increase (until the glider reaches an equilibrium in a new attitude). Easing the stick back again will cause the nose to rise, and put you in another attitude, with less ground in view and at a slower speed. If you move the stick back further, the nose will continue to rise, until you lose too much speed, at which point the nose will drop regardless of the fact that the stick is held well back. You MUST MOVE THE STICK FORWARD to regain sufficient speed before then returning to the normal attitude. When the nose goes down like this, we call it a Stall. When moving the stick forward to recover from a stall, you may not need much movement, but you WILL need movement forwards!


The effect of the elevator. 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 5a

BGA Gliding Basics – Effects of Controls