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General Aircraft Classifications

Story Highlights
  • What Is Aircraft
  • Lighter Than Air
  • Heavier Than Air
  • Aircraft Configurations
  • RC Aircraft

To classify ِAircraft’s by type. there are many classification methods in the world there are modern ones such as autopilot system and old classifications such as weight or shape. the main and oldest difference between aircraft’s is lighter than air and another type is heavier than air. before starting the explanation of classifications what is aircraft? it’s any human-made object that can be fly! it could be a helicopter, a balloon, a kite or a rocket.

Lighter Than Air

This type of aircraft is usually divided into many types: Balloons, Hot air balloons, Zeppelins, Dirigibles, Blimp and Airships. each one of them has specific properties and construction methods are different but overall they have the same principle there is a volume inside to fill with specific gas lighter than air (Hydrogen, Helium or Hot air) this helps the vehicle to float like wood in water. one of the main problems of the balloon is the difficulty of taking the destination (None steerable vehicle) and will drift with the air winds. some of these species have a rigid or flexible structure but have a specific aerodynamic shape, which contains volume cells filled with the lifting force. some types have a source of power (propulsion) and can be controlled in many flight axes. the rigid internal structure very strong using at high speeds level but Lighter Than Air this type of aircraft is not safe because it is affected by difficult weather conditions such as storms, and the danger of gases. the following pictures show the different shapes

Heavier Than Air

Aircraft heavier than air are a type of aircraft that does not have gas to float in the air rather, we need to provide the force that drives the plane to take off Which is called thrust  to get lift The simplest example of this type is a kite, we need force (thrust) to make it fly often this type of aircraft is equipped with wings and tail to react with the wind, but there are types do not have to be wings or tail we can say that nowadays all aircraft such as civil and military are of type of heavier than air.


Gliders are many, some of their types Paragliding where the commander wears a belt while merges with Pressure difference in high places, it’s the cheapest form of aviation in the world just a little dollars to get one and the control is done manually by hand. Hang Gliding, differs from Paragliding that contains a structure of rigid aluminum or other material possible to fly higher distances and security but both types do not have an engine or motor so your flight will be of limited duration. The third type of glider is sailplanes it is an agile aircraft with a streamlined shape to stay longer in the air.

Powered Paragliding This professional glider where the pilot wears a motor on their back which provides more enough thrust to take off freely from any ground no wind or high area is necessary so suited to low wind conditions and safely fly low and slow.

finally Microlights or Ultralights, this aircraft usually consists of 3 or 4 wheels which are originally Hang Gliding but it is equipped with engine and wheels, Characterized by a lightweight and good power, fly higher, faster and in more different weather conditions. it is designed for entertainment but is sometimes used in training. Most gliders need special training and license so don’t take off without special training.

These pictures illustrate the above types : 

Commercial Aircraft’s

Any aircraft that carries tools, goods or passengers, rather than a military aircraft used for military operations. commercial aircraft classified by size and type of engine used (piston or jet) and purpose of use (Transport, Civil) and acrobatics (Sports Aircraft Review).

These pictures illustrate the above types : 


Helicopter a Hover machine that has the ability to fly and rise from the ground with single or Multi blades fixed above its body, which gives it the ability to rotate around its axis (rotation about the x-axis) to fly in the air. It is classified as a related Rotary-wing Aircraft, The basic feature of the helicopter is its rotation in the air and maintaining the lifting force without having to move forward like the plane type. So you can take off and land vertically without the need for a runway so It is really a suitable plane to fly in public areas such as hotels and hospitals as well as its ability to handle low-speed air conditions it’s a very stable aircraft. The helicopter’s current uses in transportation, firefighting, search and rescue, and military use.

These pictures illustrate the helicopter : 

Military Aircraft

Military aircraft or fighter aircraft, used in battlefields or reconnaissance and espionage used by a country to monitor another country or strike missiles at enemies.

These pictures illustrate the Military Aircrafts: 

Aircraft Configurations

Aircraft can be classified by many configurations such as Wing, Propulsion systems (power), Average weight of the aircraft, landing gear, and Takeoff systems, Manufacturing materials, control surfaces, ِAutopilot system, fuselage, Cockpit and more. now we will study the most important classifications in general. While we will not explain the configurations in detail because on this website we are interested in talking about remote control aircraft(RC) but knowing something new won’t hurt you.

Aircraft Wings

There are many types of aircraft wings determine the shape and size of the wing depends on the weight of the aircraft and its ability to maneuver and penetrate at high speeds. for more details visit wing configuration.

Propulsion systems (Power)

Aircraft engines are divided into two general categories:

  1. Internal Combustion Engine ICE, have internal pistons like reciprocating engines.
  2. External Combustion Engine ECE, have external combustion like a jet engine.
  3. An important classification of engines is where the engine is placed (wing, tail or cowling)

landing gear and Takeoff systems

Aircraft take-off and landing equipment vary, for example, some aircraft have fixed landing like light training aircraft and helicopters, some aircraft have landing wheels inserted into the fuselage when take-off. Some types of aircraft are able to take off and land from the surface of the water so fitted in a system that allows it to float above water. the following pictures show the forms of the landing-gear:

RC Aircraft

This type of aircraft is for amateur and used in photography, reconnaissance and surveillance, the aircraft is small in size and light and controlled by remote control, can be purchased from any store, or you can build a private jet RC Aircraft. In tocircuit.com website we have explained in detail how to buy and build the aircraft, now you can start building journey from here RC Aircraft, for more details about RC Classifications, read this article RC Aircraft Classifications. the following pictures show the forms of the RC Aircraft’s types:

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