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9 Terms Every Pilot Should Know About Wings

If you're a pilot, these are terms you should know about your airplane's wings.

1) Wing Span

It's the easiest one of all! Wing span is the distance from wing tip to wing tip.


2) Chord Line

The chord line runs from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the wing. It does not necessarily run directly through the center of a wing if there is camber.

3) Midline

The midline is the average line running symmetrically through the center of the wing.

4) Camber

The difference between the midline and the chord line.

5) Wing Area

The plan surface area including the area covered by the fuselage.


6) Angle Of Attack

The difference between the chord line and the relative wind. "Angle of attack" (AOA) is one of the most common terms you'll find in aviation and is extremely important when understanding stall characteristics.

7) Angle of Incidence

The angle of incidence is the angle between the longitudinal axis of the aircraft (draw a line from the spinner to the tail) and the chord line of the wing (draw a line from the leading edge to the trailing edge).

8) Wing Washout

Washout is a change in an airfoil's angle of incidence, measured from the root to the tip. If you look closely at a wing with washout, you'll see that it twists from the root to the tip, with the root having a higher angle of incidence than the tip.

9) Aspect Ratio

Wing span divided by the average chord. For instance, you'll find high aspect ratio wings on gliders and low aspect ratio wings on fighter jets.

What other terms did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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