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Airplane, powered heavier-than-air craft that obtains lift from the aerodynamic effect of the air rushing over its wings. Besides wings, the typical airplane has a cigar-shaped fuselage that carries the pilot and payload, a power unit to provide forward thrust, stabilizers and a tail fin for controlling the plane in flight, and landing gear for supporting it on the ground. The plane is piloted using the throttle and the 3 basic control surfaces: the elevators on the stabilizers, which determine pitch (whether the plane is climbing, diving, or flying horizontally), the rudder on the tail fin, which governs yaw (the rotation of the plane about a vertical axis), and the ailerons on the wings, which control roll (the rotation of the plane about the long axis through the fuselage). In turning the plane, both the rudder and the ailerons must be used to bank the plane into the turn. The airplane's control surfaces are operated by moving a control stick or steering column (elevators and ailerons) in conjunction with a pair of footpedals (rudder).

See also: Aerodynamics; Wright brothers; Aviation.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - A to Akutagawa, Ryunosuke