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Military Flight Aptitude Test: Aircraft Axes of Movement

The Military Flight Aptitude Test might include questions about the operation of fixed-wing aircraft. A fixed-wing aircraft is characterized by rigidly or semirigidly attached wings that gain lift by the forward movement of the aircraft in relation to relative wind.

The following sections let you in on some of the important aspects of fixed-wing aircraft that you want to know for the aptitude test.

Major parts of a standard fixed-wing airplane.
Major parts of a standard fixed-wing airplane.

Whenever an aircraft changes its position in flight, movement is defined as a rotation around one of three axes of flight. These axes of movement are imaginary lines that run through the aircraft’s center of gravity (a point where the force of gravity is centered on the aircraft):

  • Longitudinal: The imaginary line from the front to the rear of the aircraft is the longitudinal axis, and it’s characterized by a rolling motion (that’s why it’s sometimes called the roll axis).

  • Lateral: The imaginary line from the aircraft’s center of gravity to the opposite wingtip center point is called the lateral axis or the pitch axis, and it involves a pitching motion.

  • Vertical: The imaginary line that is vertical through the aircraft’s center of gravity is the vertical axis or yaw axis, and movements around it are yawing motions.

All angles intersect at a relative 90-degree angle, and movements along the three axes are controlled by changes in various surface structures.

The three axes of flight.
The three axes of flight.

The flight aptitude test will contain conceptual and situational questions about the three axes of flight, such as the following:

The three axes around which flight movement occurs are
  • (A) Horizontal, vertical, and lateral

  • (B) Latitude, longitude, and vector

  • (C) Lateral, longitude, and vector

  • (D) Lateral, longitudinal, and perpendicular

  • (E) Roll, pitch, and yaw

The correct answer is Choice (E).

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