It Takes More Than Flapping – Controlling an Air Ambulance

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor, Brandon Kearns

Angel MedFlight's Learjet 60 air ambulance

AWC Director of Operations, Brandon Kearns, lends his expertise in the control mechanics of AMF’s Learjet 60 air ambulance.

Chances are that at some point in your life you have stuck your hand out of the car window and actually taken flight. You could climb and descend your hand with only slight rotational movements relative to the wind.  I think that most of us have found ourselves being amazed that something such as an appendage was aerodynamic. Well believe it or not, flight controls on airplanes are not much different than your five fingered airplane.

Flight controls on Angel MedFlight’s air ambulance airplanes are moved by the pilot which position the aircraft so that it can be either turned or climbed. Nearly every airplane made is comprised of the following flight controls:

The Ailerons

Located on the backs of both wings, these are used for the turning of the aircraft. When a pilot desires to turn, he/she moves the controls in the cockpit; one aileron goes up to lower the wing and the other goes down to raise the wing. The lowered wing is the one representing the direction of the turn.

The Elevators

The elevators are located on the rear portion of the tail flaps. They are used to pitch the aircraft up or down. When the elevator goes up, the nose of the aircraft does the same. When the elevator is lowered the nose is lowered as well.

The Rudder

For a boat to turn in the water, the ship’s Captain must steer – which then moves the rudder and ultimately steers the ship in the appropriate direction. Airplane rudders work very much in the same way. The only difference is elemental resistance. The rudder can be found on the back of the vertical stabilizer (the vertical tail).

The Flaps

The flaps are near the ailerons. They are the inner section of the rear of the wings. Aircraft have wing flaps primarily for landing. They allow the aircraft to increase the lift capability of the airplane’s wing while flying at reduced speeds for landing. The wind resistance created assists in lowering the incoming speed.

Working in harmony, these controls and flaps move and rotate to direct wind – guiding the air ambulance in the targeted direction.

In case you are wondering how a pilot can choreograph the movements of all of these flight controls while assuring an airplane which weighs thousands of pounds stays in the air, I can sum it all up for you in one word: training. To ascertain each move that makes control possible, consistent training and product knowledge are necessary for effective flight management and safety.

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