Traditionally, flying aircraft have been treated within the confines of flight dynamics, which is concerned, for the most part, with rigid aircraft. On the other hand, flexible aircraft fall in the domain of aeroelasticity. In reality all aircraft possess some measure of flexibility and carry out rigid body maneuvers, so that the question arises as to whether rigid body motions and flexibility in combination can affect adversely the stability of flying aircraft. This paper addresses this question by solving the eigenvalue problem for the following three cases: (i) the flight dynamics of a flexible aircraft regarded as rigid and whose perturbations about the flight path are controlled by feedback control, (ii) the aeroelasticity of a corresponding flexible aircraft prevented from undergoing rigid body translations and rotations, and (iii) the control of the actual flexible aircraft using the control gains derived in the first case by regarding the aircraft as rigid. This investigation demonstrates that it is not always safe to treat separately rigid body and flexibility effects in a flying flexible aircraft.

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