I saw a plane leaving Luton Airport that I have never seen before. It seemed to have an extra small rectangular wing near the front of the plane. What is it?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome! You likely saw a canard control surface. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 20:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You should provide more details about the aircraft (big or small, prop or jet, etc). Also a picture would be very helpful. Like @mins said, its probably a plane with a canard configuration of some sort. $\endgroup$
    – Jimy
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ Since you specified a rectangular canard, could it have been a Piaggio Avanti? $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ If it was REALLY small, it could have been an Angle of Attack vane. $\endgroup$
    – notloc
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


That would be a canard you see on the airplane.

enter image description here

An aircraft designer may adopt the canard configuration to reduce the main wing loading, to better control the main wing airflow, or to increase the aircraft’s maneuverability, especially at high angles of attack or during a stall

Canard foreplanes, whether used in a canard or three-surface configuration, have important consequences on the aircraft’s longitudinal equilibrium, static and dynamic stability characteristics.

Many pioneers initially followed the Wrights' lead. For example, the Santos-Dumont 14-bis aeroplane of 1906 had no "tail", but a box kite-like set of control surfaces in the front, pivoting on a universal joint on the fuselage's extreme nose, making it capable of incorporating both yaw and pitch control.

enter image description here

I hope this has helped.


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