To ensure that the elevator of a cruise missile is operating within the design specification in high-attitude flight, we present a design method for the construction of a sliding mode recursive variable structure controller. In this design method, a target sliding mode surface is first designed without considering the engineering specification of the elevator. Secondly, by using this specification, the critical state is solved. Then, the transitional sliding mode surfaces are designed recursively by using the critical state of the previous sliding mode surface so that the state will move smoothly from one transitional sliding mode surface to the next until the target sliding mode surface. This design method is based on linear sliding mode variable structure theory. Thus, the controller obtained is simple in structure and practical. Furthermore, the elevator will operate within the engineering specification. The simulation results show the effectiveness of the proposed method.