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5 Answers

New “Flight” Trailer?

Asked by: 4562 views , , , ,
Aerodynamics

In the trailer for Robert Zemeckis' new movie, "Flight," at 0:45 Denzel's character says "Trim us, nose down!" before he (successfully) rolls the passenger plane.

1) What is he asking his co-pilot to do?

2) Why would he do that before a barrel roll?

This looks like a great movie, BTW:
http://collider.com/flight-movie-trailer/169829/

Additional Details
I understand that "Trim us, nose down!" equals a "nose-down trim," semantically.

For question 1, I'm asking *what* that is: does it have something to do with the elevators, and what position they're in? Or is it some combination of the ailerons, elevators, and rudder? How, for example, does it differ from a nose-up trim? What is the effect on the plane? Why would someone do this, and in what circumstances?

For question 2) If you pause the trailer at 2:10, and then watch the next three seconds closely (pause if you need to), you can very clearly see the plane *coming out of a roll* and stabilizing. At 2:25, you do see inverted flight -- but I think that's followed by the roll.
Maybe he pulled out of a stabilized (?) dive into a canopy roll ???

Thanks in advance.

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5 Answers



  1. Jim Foley on Jun 08, 2012

    As I have not seen the trailer, I can only comment on question 1.  There are three axis of control on the aircraft: pitch (nose up/down), yaw (nose left/right), and roll (banking left/right, when the wings go up and down).  Just about every plane will have nose trim, controlled by the elevator.  Some smaller ones also have rudder (yaw) trim.  Most jets and larger aircraft are the only ones with airleron (roll) trim.
     
    So, what you’re qustining is the pitch trim, controlled by the elevator.  When you input nose down trim, you are in effect changing the position of the elevator in order to hold the aircraft in a more desireable position, and do alleviate need input on the pilot’s part.  In some aircraft, adjusting the trim will directly move the entire elevator.  On most, especially smaller prop planes, adjusting the trim moves a ‘trim tab.’  This is a small section on the trailing edge of the elevator that will deflect into the airstream, and move the entire elevator in the opposite direction.
     
    It’s kind of hard (for me) to understand without visual aids.  I suggest doing a Google search to find more in-depth info regarding the operation and specifics of aircraft elevator trim.

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  2. Gary Moore on Jun 08, 2012

    Also – it’s a movie – it may not be accurate 🙂

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  3. Koehn on Jun 08, 2012

    Don’t expect too much in terms of aviation accuracy from a major motion picture. It may well be that the captain did the right thing (though I cannot imagine it in any op spec), but let’s take a moment and remember the move 2012 and all it’s aviation accuracy. It seems to me that in Flight they were trying to borrow a page from Al Haynes’ book, but the crew on that flight people performed much more reasonable actions (brilliantly) in response to a true once-in-a-lifetime event.

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  4. Cassandra K. on Jun 08, 2012

    Thank you, everyone for your input so far. Here’s the trailer on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ53JCLG9I0
    I got the definition of “trim” from Wikipedia, finally: “As the desired position of a control surface changes (corresponding mainly to different speeds), an adjustable trim tab will allow the operator to reduce the manual force required to maintain that position—to zero, if used correctly.” So when Denzel asks his co-pilot to “Trim us, nose down!”, he’s asking him to use the elevators to keep the plane stable, nose down, so he can roll her.
    I’ve seen this procedure, now, on several flight training sites, for recovering from a dive: Power (pull to idle), Push (move the stick towards neutral if “loaded” (pulling G’s), and ROLL (find the nearest horizon (shortest direction to roll upright) and roll to level the wings with respect to it.)
    I recommend the trailer: realistic or not, it’s quite a ride 🙂

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  5. Nathan Parker on Jun 09, 2012

    ” So when Denzel asks his co-pilot to “Trim us, nose down!”, he’s asking him to use the elevators to keep the plane stable, nose down, so he can roll her.”
     
    The normal way to roll an airplane is to raise the nose above the horizon before initiating the roll.  The nose-down trimming in the movie might be “techno-babble” as someone else hinted.  While trimming the airplane can reduce the effort to move the yoke, it isn’t actually necessary to accomplish a task. 
     
    Towards the end of the trailer, it shows the airplane in inverted flight.  If the airplane still had a positive AoA at that stage, it would either be arcing towards the ground or engaged in an outside loop (no way).  So it would appear that the airplane had a negative AoA that would permit level flight in an inverted attitude. In that case, it would require a lot of nose down elevator, which having nose down trim would make easier.

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