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These are situated on the trailing (back) edge of the wing and are used to make the aircraft roll. When flying straight and level, moving the control stick to the right will raise the aileron on the right wing and lower the aileron on the left wing. Thus increasing the lift on the left wing and decreasing the lift on the right wing (actually increases the lift on the right wing, but in the opposite sense to the left wing).

In conjunction with the elevator and rudder the ailerons are used to turn the aircraft. There are a number of different types and ways in which they are hinged and actuated.

Frize Type:

When the aileron is down there is a very smooth flow over the top surface.

Frize type aileron

However, when the aileron is up the bottom sticks out below the surface of the wing creating drag and balancing the drag created by the opposite aileron.

Frize type aileron

Underside of Piper Cub wingThe underside of the Piper Cub wing showing the frize type aileron in the up position.

Underside of Piper Cub wingThe underside of the Piper Cub wing showing the frize type aileron in the down position.


Sealing the hinge line will stop high leaking from the high pressure region under the wing to the low pressure region above the wing. This will result in more lift for the wing and a more efficient aileron.

LeakageOn gliders the hinge can be made using Diamond tape. This seals and forms the hinge in one.

Wings sealed using Diamond tapeAileron hinge sealed with tape.

Middle hinge:

This type of hinge is used on most sports models with the servo operating the aileron inboard. The hinge is made using mylar or pin hinges. Make sure that gap is minimal. This has two benefits, it will result in less slack in the aileron hence maximising the movement and reduce the leakage between surfaces so increasing efficiency. Any gap can be sealed using a strip of covering material or a thin bead of silicon.

Sport type aileron

Wing Warping:

How did early aircraft roll?


They used wing warping, that is they pulled the wing out of shape in order to roll into turns. However, this form of roll control isn't very good because you cannot warp the wing that much to roll the aircraft. On a model you would require very strong servos or compromise the stiffness of the wing, resulting in wing flutter at very low speeds.

See also: Adverse Yaw, Differential Control, Flaps, Servo.