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Model Aircraft Glossary



The strut assembly at the centre section of a biplane or Parasol monoplane.


The curvature of the wing or horizontal tail, from the leading edge to the trailing edge.


An aeroplane designed to fly with its tailplane in front of the wing, it also refers to a forward horizontal stabilizer. Some aircraft have canards in addition to a conventional horizontal stabilizer on the tail.


The transparent cover over a cockpit.


A wing built in such a way that it does not require external bracing. Model scale aircraft may have dummy external bracing to replicate the original even though the wings are actually strong enough not to need it.


The part of the engine that controls the engine speed. This is done by controlling the amount of air and fuel. The basic amount of fuel is normally controlled by the needle valve.

Cardboard & Paper Models

Interesting links for further information. more......


Swivel or rotate slightly. The tail wheel on tail draggers may be allowed to just caster. This has the added benefit of not feeding ground input back into the rudder servo mechanism.

Cellulose Dope

A nitrocellulose varnish like liquid used to shrink fabric onto a frame. Care should be taken to carefully read manufacturers instructions and work in an open environment as the fumes can become very overpowering.

Centre of Gravity

The spot where the mass or weight of an aeroplane may be said to centre. The position of the centre of gravity of a model aircraft will determine how stable the aircraft is in flight. As the centre of gravity moves rearward (towards the tail) the aircraft will become more and more unstable. In models powered by internal combustion engines with fuel tanks situated in front of the centre of gravity it is important that the centre of gravity is set with the fuel tank empty. Otherwise, as the fuel is used the aircraft will become unstable. The centre of gravity may be assessed by balancing the aircraft on two finger tips placed either side of the fuselage.

Reference: Aerodynamics Glossary -

Centre of Lift (CL)

The spot where the lift of a wing (or wings) is said to centre.

Centre of Pressure

The point on the upper surface of a wing. Relative to the chord. Where the lift can be said to centre.

Centre Pod Configuration

de Havilland VampireAn aircraft design where the short fuselage is not connected to tail surfaces. A good example of this is the de Havilland Vampire.

Charge Jack

The plug receptacle of the switch harness into which the charger is plugged to charge the airborne battery. An expanded scale voltmeter (ESV) can also be plugged into it to check battery voltage between flights. It is advisable to mount the charge jack in an accessible area of the fuselage so an ESV can be used without removing the wing.


Device used to recharge batteries and usually supplied with the radio if NiCad batteries are included.

Chicken Stick

A stick used to "flip start" a model airplane engine and hence save your fingers from getting caught in the propeller when the engine starts or backfires.

See also: Propellers.

Chip Light

Warning light that illuminates to inform the pilot that a metallic chip has been detected in a particular component.


The width of a wing or tailplane from front (leading edge) to back (trailing edge).

Chord Line

A line from the front of an airfoil (the leading edge) to the trailing edge.

Chordwise Balance

A point at the center of lift of the blade, along the chord line. On a model it is advisable that the blade be balanced at this point as well as along the span.

Chronology of Flight

Replica of the Wright FlyerThe Famous and Eventful dates in aviation history. more......

Circle Tow

A system by which a free-flight glider may be held captive on the towline and circled until the flyer detects a thermal into which to launch.


A rectangular flight path around the runway in use; the flight-path used by aircraft approaching for landing.


A sprung link connecting a control rod to the surface being controlled.

Closed Loop

A means of operating a control surface by means of flexible wires, under tension, attached to either side; sometimes known as pull-pull.

Clunk Tank

clunk tankA fuel tank where the fuel pickup (the ‘clunk’) is at the end of a flexible tube. Gravity ensures that the ‘clunk’ is always at the bottom, enabling fuel to be collected whatever the orientation of the fuel tank. more......


The area, usually near the front of an aircraft, from which a pilot controls the aircraft.

See also: Pilot Painting

Cody, Samuel

In 1908 Samuel Cody made the first powered flight in the UK. Perhaps more famous for his wild west shows before this.

See also: Chronology of Flight.

Collective Pitch Control

The control by which the pilot can vary the pitch of all the rotor blades equally and simultaneously.

Combined-Cycle Engine

Engine concepts using some combination of air-breathing and rocket components which are integrated into a single propulsion system.


Usually refers to a type of structure made with layers of fiberglass or fiberglass-like materials such as carbon fibre. The materials are called composites.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

A mathematical description of fluid flow that is applied to an aircraft. The equations governing fluid flow are difficult to solve and hence normally approximated and solved using supercomputers.

Reference: Aerodynamics Glossary -

Condenser Tissue

An ultra-light paper, originally used for insulation in electronic capacitors, used for covering some types of indoor free-flight aircraft.


Upturned blade due to combined lift and centrifugal force.

Coning Angle

The angle of the rotor blade to the plane of disk rotation, formed when the rotor blades are lifting the model.

Conservation of Angular Momentum

As the centre mass of a rotating body moves closer to the axis of rotation, the velocity of the body increases. This law is demonstrated very vividly by ice skaters when they start to rotate and then pull their arms in to their chest.


One that has parallel leading and trailing edges, with no taper.

Contra-Rotating Propellors

Two propellors on the same axis rotating in opposite directions. It is a convenient method to increase power for a given propellor diameter.

See also: Propellers.

Control-Line Flying

A method of flying a model aircraft by means of two thin wires connecting the model to a control handle held by the pilot. The model flying in a circular path and its elevation is controlled by the pilot.

Control Handle

Device held in the hand, to which control lines are attached; vertical rocking movements of handle are carried via lines to the aeroplane elevators.

Control Horn

An arm fastened to a control surface to which is connected the control rod.

See also: Servo.

Control Surfaces

Parts of an aircraft that are activated by the pilot or servos (in the case of a radio-controlled model) to change the airflow around the surfaces of the aircraft. The changes in airflow cause the aircraft to roll, pitch, or yaw.

See also: Servo.

Coriolis Effect

The tendency of a mass to increase or decrease its angular velocity when its radius of rotation is shortened or lengthened, respectively. In a helicopter, the coriolis effect of the main rotor blades is compensated for by the lead - lag hinges.

Correlation Device

A mechanical linkage between the collective pitch lever and the throttle designed so that the throttle opens as the collective lever is raised and closes as the collective lever is lowered. The correlation device reduces some of the burden of adjusting the throttle to maintain rotor rpm whenever the pilot makes changes in collective pitch.

Coupe D’Hiver

The FAI’s F1G small free-flight rubber duration class, originated in France during World War 2.


The wing of a model aeroplane that is intended to fly may be constructed in a number of ways depending on the required performance envelope of the model aircraft.

See also: Stitching, Wing Construction.


A specially shaped nose to enclose an engine.

See also: Engine Cowling.

Crow or Butterfly

A mix which activates up flaperons and down inner-most flaps for gliding speed control without spoilers or airbrakes.


A component used to determine the operating frequency of a Radio Transmitter or Receiver. The frequency or Channel of R/C equipment can be changed by plugging in the appropriate crystals.


A type of instant acting adhesive.


Term used for the horizontal controls used to determine the attitude of the helicopter.


Type of swashplate mixing which requires a radio with CCPM mixing functions. This uses three servos to control the cyclic, while all three work together to raise and lower the swashplate for collective control.