Central forward area of the Mirage III cockpit, showing a centre stick.
A centre stick (or center stick in the United States), or simply control stick is an aircraft cockpit arrangement where the control column (or joystick) is located conventionally in the center of the cockpit between the pilot's legs. Since the throttle controls are typically located to the left of the pilot, the right hand is used for the stick, although left-hand or both-hands operation is possible if required.
The centre stick is a part of an aircraft's flight control system, and is typically linked to its ailerons and elevators, or alternately to its elevons, by control rods or control cables on basic aircraft. On heavier, faster, more advanced aircraft the centre stick may also control power-assist modules. Modern aircraft centre sticks are also usually equipped with a number of electrical control switches within easy finger reach, in order to reduce the pilot's workload.
The centre stick originated at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1900 Wilhelm Kress of Austria developed a control stick for aircraft, but did not apply for a patent. Instead, a patent was awarded to the French aviator, Robert Esnault-Pelterie who applied for it in 1907.