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In automatic control education, real examples always improve students' learning and motivation. Considering this fact, a hardware-in-the-loop, low-cost altitude control system for a radio-controlled (RC) airplane has been developed to improve automatic control education. This system constitutes a high-impact demonstrator for teaching automatic control topics, applied to a real-life problem. The airplane has an altitude sensor; students can safely remotely control this variable in a computer real-time environment. This paper addresses the system analysis and description, controller design, and real demonstrations. This device was tested in a basic automatic control course for undergraduate electrical engineering students and received good results; students reacted with curiosity and enthusiasm and encouraged the lecturers to design more experiences like this one.