Welcome back to our Word of the Week!

Every week, we look together at a word that is either interesting, funny or mysterious and that appeals to all of us in the aviation community.

No, it’s not a poor phonetic reconstruction of “Your”

No, kitteh! “YOUR”!!

It’s one of the movements you can do with your aircraft…

yaw (n.)

UK /jɔː/ US /jaː/

The noun “yaw” means:

  • a slight movement of an aircraft or ship, to the side of its intended direction.

Of course, a generalist dictionary (like Cambridge’s, in this case) won’t go into detail as to the technicalities, but if you look closely at its definition, it talks about “intended direction”, which can be seen as the heading of the vessel.

Indeed, yaw is the side-to-side movement around the vertical axis of your aircraft, i.e. the one that determines where the nose of the ship is pointing.

In this diagram you can see the three axis of an aircraft, which control surfaces are used to control movement around them, and the name of those movements.

Yaw, as we can see, is the movement you can control with the rudder pedals, which operate the movable flap of the vertical part of the tail.

The term “yaw” is in fact very old, and was first seen in the 16th century, coming form either old Norse jaga (to drive), or from Low German Jagen. It’s a safe bet to say that the aviators back then were very few, or, more probably, that it was a sailing term…