Aeronautical Terms beginning with W

Wake Turbulence

Wingtip vortices that are created when an airplane generates lift. When an airplane generates lift, air spills over the wingtips from the high pressure areas below the wings to the low pressure areas above them. This flow causes rapidly rotating whirlpools of air called wingtip vortices or wake turbulence.

Waste Gate

A controllable valve in the tailpipe of an aircraft reciprocating engine equipped with a turbocharger. The valve is controlled to vary the amount of exhaust gases forced through the turbocharger turbine.


The tendency of the aircraft to turn into the relative wind.


A measure of the heaviness of an object. The force by which a body is attracted toward the center of the Earth (or another celestial body) by gravity. Weight is equal to the mass of the body times the local value of gravitational acceleration. One of the four main forces acting on an aircraft. Equivalent to the actual weight of the aircraft. It acts downward through the aircraft’s center of gravity toward the center of the Earth. Weight opposes lift.

Weight And Balance

The aircraft is said to be in weight and balance when the gross weight of the aircraft is under the max gross weight, and the center of gravity is within limits and will remain in limits for the duration of the flight.


A condition caused when forward yoke or stick pressure during takeoff or landing causes the aircraft to ride on the nosewheel alone.

Wind Correction Angle

Correction applied to the course to establish a heading so that track will coincide with course.

Wind Direction Indicators

Indicators that include a wind sock, wind tee, or tetrahedron. Visual reference will determine wind direction and runway in use.

Wind Shear

A sudden, drastic shift in windspeed, direction, or both that may occur in the horizontal or vertical plane.


When the air moving through a propeller creates the rotational energy.


A truncated cloth cone open at both ends and mounted on a freewheeling pivot that indicates the direction from which the wind is blowing.


Airfoil attached to each side of the fuselage and are the main lifting surfaces that support the airplane in flight.

Wing Area

The total surface of the wing (square feet), which includes control surfaces and may include wing area covered by the fuselage (main body of the airplane), and engine nacelles.

Wing Span

The maximum distance from wingtip to wingtip.

Wing Twist

A design feature incorporated into some wings to improve aileron control effectiveness at high angles of attack during an approach to a stall.

Wingtip Vortices

The rapidly rotating air that spills over an airplane’s wings during flight. The intensity of the turbulence depends on the airplane’s weight, speed, and configuration. It is also referred to as wake turbulence. Vortices from heavy aircraft may be extremely hazardous to small aircraft.

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