Aircraft Motion
Physics of Aircraft
Weight and Thrust
Secondary Controls
Straight and Level
Aircraft Design Features
The Stall
Practice Exam

The Three Axes

All movements of an aircraft are a combination of pitching, rolling and yawing. There is no other type of motion possible. Even the most complex aerobatic maneuvers are simply degrees of movement in pitch, roll, and yaw.


When the nose is rising and the tail is falling (or vice versa), the aircraft is pitching. The axis is the point about which the movement occurs – in this case it is movement about the lateral axis.


When one wing rises and the other descends, the aircraft is rolling. Rolling is movement about the longitudinal axis. All parts of the aircraft on one side of the axis are rising and all parts on the other side are descending.


When the nose moves one direction and the tail moves the other, the aircraft is yawing. Yawing is movement about the normal or vertical axis. All parts of the aircraft forward of the axis are moving to one side and the parts behind the axis are moving to the other side.

Aircraft Attitude

The term attitude is used to describe how the aircraft is positioned relative to the natural horizon. For example, if you pitch the nose up, we have a nose high attitude.

The attitude is determined by the aircraft’s motion about the three axes, but the pilot assesses the attitude by looking at the visual position of the horizon in front of them.