Windy? Expert landing advice

Feb 02, 2014 9 Comments by

A common landing mistake is pointing the fuselage toward the runway during the approach in a crosswind. Note that while an airplane will crab into a cross-wind, it will continue to fly in a straight line as long as the wings are level. Therefore, rather than pointing the fuselage where you want the plane to go, you must track where the airplane as a whole is traveling, irrespective of the fuselage, when in a crosswind. People debate every year about how to use the controls to correct for crosswind drift during landing. Yet, if they knew to guide the airplane as a whole (versus pointing it), they wouldn’t have to correct for wind drift in the first place (and would have more time to improve in other areas!). So, rather than trying to guess-timate the plane’s track over the ground, project where the airplane as a whole is traveling (relative to yourself), and you’ll be able to recognize deviations during the approach before they become otherwise obvious. The tiny corrections needed to perfect the centerline when it comes into view will then be negligible.   BY DAVE SCOTT

Fixed-Wing Flight School

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9 Responses to “Windy? Expert landing advice”

  1. Bob Hoover says:

    This is an effective approach but there are some aircraft that also require rudder to line up before touchdown. Then aileron into wind. In a strong crosswind it is best to touchdown on one wheel first. This is the technique used in full scale aircraft. Usually not required by small rc planes however I enjoy the challenge.

  2. CanDo says:

    Bob, many thanks for your expert advice!

  3. Mike says:

    Move to Oklahoma and you’ll learn all about crosswinds. If it ever stops blowing suddenly we’ll all fall down! We routinely fly in 20 mph winds and in my case my first solo flight was made in a 45 degree 20 mph crosswind. Wind is scary to a lot of fliers living in calmer areas but if you take the time you can easily learn to use the wind to your advantage. Just my 2 cents. Great article too!

  4. Brian Fahrlander says:

    The B-52 solved this: that bicycle landing gear could be ON the runway, while the plane faced into the WIND!

    Now THAT is some brilliant thinking! (Especially when you’re loaded with bombs!)

  5. Tyler says:

    Yep. To elaborate on Bob Hoover’s point, the rudder is used to turn the nose toward the runway centreline, and banking into the wind keeps the plane from drifting across the runway. This results in the upwind wheel landing first. In addition, particularly strong winds often demand a higher than normal landing speed, and when taxiing, it is best to position the controls such that lift is minimised on the upwind wing – e.g., with a right tailwind, having ailerons in a left-bank position (such that the right aileron is down) minimises the chance of the aeroplane being lifted by the wind.

  6. Chris says:

    I too live in Oklahoma and I fly in the wind all the time also! I see lots of guys that won’t, or are afraid of it. I enjoy playing in it, flying backwards, sideways, yeah it gets old sometimes. Also, your plane of choice makes a world of difference! Dad always says, “The airplane don’t know it’s windy…”

  7. Harold says:

    I use Gyros to compensate for wind..also helps in take-offs and landings…

  8. Michael Bullen says:

    This is the dumbest advise I have ever heard. I have been a model airplane pilot for 30 years and a full size pilot for 14 years. Fly the crab until close to touchdown then correct with rudder to square the plane to runway at the same time using aileron to hold center line. Also in crosswind the use of high angles of flaps is not adviseable since this reduces rudder authority.

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