How important is it to learn to use rudder?

Aug 21, 2013 2 Comments by

Actually, pilots should begin their flying careers by using rudder from the very beginning. One of the ways we used to help beginner pilots is by programming in an aileron/rudder mix from the very start. This improves the plane’s performance by eliminating adverse yaw, which is the opposite yaw or skid inherent with aileron deflections on flat-bottom-wing planes, the very ones many new pilots start with. What is important is that adverse yaw grows worse at slower speeds and/or with larger inputs. This is why some pilots, who seem to fly around OK, struggle with controlling their planes during landing.

By coordinating rudder deflection with the aileron (rudder moving in the same direction), you prevent the nose from skidding to the left. Adverse yaw is thus prevented; banks and corrections, even rolls, will be smooth and axial, and you will feel more connected to the plane.

When a loop-or any maneuver related to one-is performed in a crosswind, the airplane will drift sideways with the wind during the slower portion of the loop. This drift will generally happen as the plane rounds over the top of the loop. Consequently, a loop that was entered on a parallel flight path with the runway will exit downwind-no longer tracking parallel. If you don’t use the rudder, you will have to do a number of corrections afterwards to reestablish the preferred parallel track taken at the start of the loop.

To correct cross-wing drift, apply rudder in the opposite direction the wind is blowing. For example, if the crosswind will blow the plane to the left, a right-rudder wind correction would prevent it. Ailerons are for keeping the wings level before and during a loop. Don’t try to correct wind drift by creating a new [wing] deviation using aileron; sideways wind drift is a function of yaw, not roll.

David Scott, Featured News, Fixed-Wing Flight School

About the author

Owner/operator of the 1st U.S. R/C Flight School (, he writes popular flight technique articles for Model Airplane News. Dave writes about everything from basic takeoffs and landings to advanced aerobatic maneuvers with detailed illustrations. His company is the country’s leading provider of beginner RC instruction.

2 Responses to “How important is it to learn to use rudder?”

  1. Mike says:

    Rudder is absolutely essential to fly any scale model, especially warbirds.

  2. Bob Wurth says:

    Good stuff Dave. I have used this aileron/rudder mix on 3 of my flat bottom
    planes….It puts you more in touch with the plane and eliminates drifting
    on landings as well as cleaner bank turns during flight…Many thanks
    Bob Wurth/Prescott, AZ

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