Elevators are control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. An increased angle of attack will cause a greater lift to be produced by the profile of the wing, and (if no power is added or available), a slowing of the aircraft. A decreased angle of attack will produce an increase in speed (a dive). There may be separate elevators on each side, operating in unison. The elevator or elevators may be the only pitch control surface present, or may be hinged to a fixed or adjustable surface called a stabilizer.
In some aircraft the elevator is in the front, ahead of the wing; this type of configuration is called a canard, the French word for "duck." The Wright Brothers' early aircraft were of this type. The canard type is more efficient, since the forward surface produces upward lift. The main wing is also less likely to stall, as the forward control surface is configured to stall before the wing, causing a pitch down and reducing the angle of attack of the wing.