What is an Elevator? As a plane gains or loses altitude, corrections sometimes need to be made in order to maintain course. Elevators control one of the rotations, pitch. Pitch A plane's pitch is its rotation around a horizontal axis, in other words, its rotation up and down. For a pilot to make a pitch roll, he pushes or pulls on the yoke. For a pilot to make a roll forward, he would push on the control stick. In doing so, the elevators would roll to a downward orientation, so that the air is deflected downwards. Aerodynamics One of the basic fundamentals of flight is the fact that air is slightly viscous - it sticks to surfaces. Elevators use this principle to cause the plane to change its pitch. As the airflow meets the front surface of the wing, it is traveling straight forward. However, if the flaps are, for example, down, the air coming off the wings will be forced by the elevators downwards. The force on the air by the elevators is returned by the air, pushing back up on the elevators. Since the elevators are held firmly in place on the tail, the tail is pushed upwards, causing the plane to roll forwards. Torque Torque is the force of rotation - it's a turning push. Because the elevators are situated well behind the center of mass of the plane, they have a much greater torque. With the large distance, it is easier for the elevators to cause a change in the pitch of the plane. However, with their small distance horizontally from the body of the plane, they are unable to cause any major change in the roll.