This paper aims to reveal the hidden physical meaning or the working principle of the three-loop autopilot. First, the minimal control structure that ensures the desired dynamic characteristics is analyzed. The results show that the three-loop autopilot has a redundant feedback loop from the minimal control structure standpoint. Based on this observation, its physical meaning is interpreted by utilizing the closed-loop tracking error dynamics in the presence of aerodynamic uncertainties. It turns out that the three-loop autopilot has the minimal control structure with an additional command which is based on the instantaneous direct model reference adaptive control. A clear mechanism of how the aerodynamic uncertainties are compensated is provided in the three-loop autopilot. Finally, numerical simulations are performed to validate our findings. The analysis results in this paper show the beauty of the three-loop autopilot: it can be considered as the most concise form to achieve desired dynamic characteristics and counteract model uncertainties. The potential importance of the results obtained is that they allow us to properly design the three-loop autopilot by reflecting its physical meaning and have potential directions to improve the performance of the three-loop autopilot as well as the adaptive control.