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Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying 1st Edition

247 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0070362406
ISBN-10: 0070362408
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover


* The invisible secret of all heavier-than-air flight--the Angle of Attack. What it is, and why it can't be seen. How lift is made, and what the pilot has to do with it.
* Why airplanes stall
* How do you know you're about to stall?
* The landing approach. How the pilot's eye functions in judging the approach. The visual clues by which an experienced pilot unconsciously judges: how you can quickly learn to use them.
* "The Spot that does not move." This is the first statement of this phenomenon. A foolproof method of making a landing approach across pole lines and trees.
* The elevator and the throttle. One controls the speed, the other controls climb and descent. Which is which?
* The paradox of the glide. By pointing the nose down less steeply, you descend more steeply. By pointing the nose down more steeply, you can glide further.
* What's the rudder for? The rudder does NOT turn the airplane the way a boat's rudder turns the boat. Then what does it do?
* How a turn is flown. The role of ailerons, rudder, and elevator in making a turn.
* The landing--how it's made. The visual clues that tell you where the ground is.
* The "tail-dragger" landing gear and what's tricky about it. This is probably the only analysis of tail-draggers now available to those who want to fly one.
* The tricycle landing gear and what's so good about it. A strong advocacy of the tricycle gear written at a time when almost all civil airplanes were taildraggers.
* Why the airplane doesn't feel the wind. Why the airplane usually flies a little sidewise.
* Plus: a chapter on Air Accidents by Leighton Collins, founder and editor of AIR FACTS. His analyses of aviation's safety problems have deeply influenced pilots and aeronautical engineers and have contributed to the benign characteristics of today's airplane.


STICK AND RUDDER is the first exact analysis of the art of flying ever attempted. It has been continously in print for thirty-three years, and has enjoyed steadily increasing sales. Flight instructors have found that the book does indeed explain important phases of the art of flying, in a way the learner can use. It shows precisely what the pilot does when he flies, just how he does it, and why.

These basics are largely unchanging. The book therefore is applicable to large airplanes and small, old airplanes and new, and is of interest not only to the learner but also to the accomplished pilot and to the instructor himself.

When STICK AND RUDDER first came out, some of its contents were considered highly controversial. In recent years its formulations have become widely accepted. Pilots and flight instructors have found that the book works.

Today several excellent manuals offer the pilot accurate and valuable technical information. But STICK AND RUDDER remains the leading think-book on the art of flying.

One thorough reading of it should be the equivalent of many hours of practice.

About the Author

Wolfgang Langewiesche first soloed in 1934 in Chicago. Early in his flying he was struck by a strange discrepancy: in piloting, the words and the realities did not agree. What pilots claimed to be doing in flying an airplane, was not what they did in practice. Langewiesche set himself the task of describing more accurately and realistically what the pilot really does when he flies. The first result was a series of articles in Air Facts, analyzing various points of piloting technique. In 1944 Stick and Rudder was published.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (September 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070362408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070362406
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Paladin on September 27, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Stick & Rudder is an all time favorite about how an airplane flies. Written over 50 years ago, it explains in a very easy-to-understand manner the basic four forces of flight, the three axis of motion, how an airfoil works, how basic aerodynamics affects flight, and how to perform the fundamental maneuvers. The information is as valid now as the day it was written. As a ground and flight instructor, I have used this as a basic text for all my students for the past 12 years. Discusses in detail straight & level flight, climbs and descents, turns, stalls, takeoffs, landings, torque, various aircraft configurations, and piloting techniques. An absolute "must have" for every pilot from Recreational to Airline Transport certificate, this is the FIRST book every aspiring pilot should read.
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97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By M. Lee on July 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Let's start with a fact: I am a pilot.

This book changed how I approached flying and changed how I fly. Let's get the obvious out of the way to assuage the ninnies in the group: Yes it's dated. Elevators are no longer called "flippers" and we don't really call our airplanes "ships." The language is right out of the 1930's. Airplanes today have flaps and tricycle gear. It moves slower than, say, Machado's book. It repeats things. It's basic.

Now the best part: It is an excellent and pure book on the ART of flying. I am amazed by the reviewers here with the 2-second attention span that didn't see this. I'll say it again, this book changed the way I fly and made me a better pilot. It emphasizes safety and it explains in pure form what is safe and what is not. The fundamentals are true and the repetition drives the points home. I took notes as I read this because I wanted to apply what I learned in the cockpit. It works, pure and simple. It teaches you basics that you didn't know you didn't know. Really it does.

Get the book, be patient, absorb what it says. Savor Wolfgang's humor. Read the book thoroughly and don't apply your media-addled, PDA-addicted, 0-attention-span, 2006 mind. Instead read it for what it is; an instructional manual purely about how to handle the stick and rudder to keep you from getting killed. It's not meant to be anything more and you shouldn't expect it to be. I, frankly, loved it. This should be required reading by the FAA. You want to glide shallower?, push the nose down! What? Amazing. It imparts information that will make you a safer pilot. It's an art form, not "Top Gun." Enough said.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I'm a student pilot with only a few hours under my belt. There is a lot of information to absorb while learning: Simple operation of the craft, radio communications, navigation, even just becoming familiar enough with the instruments to be able to read them at a glance.
Stick and Rudder provided me with a clear understanding of what would happen - and why - when I manipulated the controls, before I ever left the ground. Best of all, it's written in a concise format, easy to read and understand.
My CFI uses the FAA Flight Training Handbook as a text. Stick and Rudder helped me interpret the required FAA text and in fact the latter seems to have cribbed material from the former.
Definitely get this book. Learning to fly is complex enough and the more tools you have to simplify the process, the better. This is one of the best.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By S. Cartwright on June 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My family's history in aviation is fairly extensive, my father was a WWII fighter pilot and his first experience in an airplane was riding in a Jenny trainer, with Wiley Post at the controls, that was in 1928 when my father was 12 years old. My oldest brother retired 8 years ago after 40 years at United Airlines (Boeing before that) and I started my flying career when I earned my single engine land certificate in 1967 at the age of 17.

I see there are (currently) 96 reviews, with 90 rating "Stick & Rudder" at least "4" stars or better, but I also read through those 6 reviews that rate this book "3" stars or less. I suppose there are always going to be someone who doesn't get it.

I particularly like one of those reviewers, that rated "Stick & Rudder" poorly, making the claim the book is irrelevant in today's world, hmmmm(?). Well, in my 40+ years of flying experience, having flown everything from a 1937 Boeing Stearman up to and including a Boeing 737-400 (and probably 50 or more aircraft types in-between), its my opinion, Wolfgang Langewiesche's Stick & Rudder, has been, is, and continues to be relevant to anyone wishing to learn to fly.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dave English VINE VOICE on April 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Get rid at the outset of the idea that the airplane is only an air-going sort of automobile. It isn't. It may sound like one and smell like one, and it may have been interior decorated to look like one; but the difference is -- it goes on wings."
Still the best way to get the fundamentals straight. In the 1930's test pilot Wolfgang noticed that the words and the realities of piloting did not seem to agree. After careful thought, he published a series of articles for Air Facts magazine that analyzed the true actions of stick and rudder. The book was released in 1944 and has been in print ever since. Some of the writing shows its age -- I don't think any flight instructor will talk about the airplane's flippers -- but the actual actions of the flight controls has not changed. If you are a pilot and you don't have this book, you need to add it to your professional bookshelf.
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