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Rudder: Use it to Fly Better!

Rudder: Use it to Fly Better!

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.

Updated: May 5, 2016 — 11:46 AM


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  1. Ooops – I have avoided learning and using rudder as a mode one flyer as whenever I tried using the rudder I would also move the elevator (on the same stick) and that did not help my landings at all. You have motivated me to going back to learn rudder control.

  2. What % should be mixed in? Also should it be mixed in with other types of planes ( mid wing or bottom wing).

    1. Explained here. Note that whether the wing is located high, mid or low, has little to do with the percentage, rather, it is the shape of the airfoil. http://www.rcflightschool.com/Basic_LessonsPDF/Solo_0B16-25.pdf

  3. Too many of today’s sport flyers and “newbies” have never learned to use the rudder on the ground, much less in the air. I know it’s “all about electrics, quads and other technical inovations, but that is not learning how to fly using the rudder to control your heading. Many of the beginner pilots I talked with were never taught or even encouraged to control the aircraft using the rudder. A “pilot” should be able to “return to 3 axis of control” using the throttle, elevator and rudder to approach and land. There is nothing like flying into the wind (6-9mph) nose up, slow flying while using the rudder for directional control, dancing with the wind—It shoud be done more often!

  4. Right on Dave! “Back in the day”I learned on a 3 channel Sig Colt. Rudder on the right stick. Moved to an aileron trainer and rarely used rudder.
    Through your aerobatics school I have learned to use rudder when needed and it certainly cannot fix wings that weren’t level and lines that weren’t vertical even though everyone tries.
    When possible we mix rudder and aileron on our trainees planes. It works excellent. Amazing how nice you can make a trainer roll.
    Rudder does not fix a bad landing approach line up either, although, sometimes with scary results, I watch people try and you have a yawing 40 percent Carden mess pointed at the pits.
    “You need to use rudder” I often laugh at. Yes you do but you need you wings level first as the plane wags it’s tail like a fish.
    Don, tighten your gimble springs as much as you can and even better, put heavy duty springs in. Then knowing where center is, is not as much of a chore and those unwanted inputs disappear.
    All of Dave’s books are excellent.
    These articles never do justice to Dave’s wealth of knowledge and common sense approach to learning to fly and plane set up!

  5. I thought that you fly with neutral controls with a crossing allowing the aircraft to point in the direction of the wind as it tracks a straight path. Then when it is time to land, you apply rudder to straighten the path out in relation to your desired landing path and put in opposite aileron to keep the plane from drifting off the desired path.

  6. I fly mostly Warbirds, to keep the nose down in a high speed turn, I introduce some rudder to get the plane banking, follow thru with more rudder, then make small corrections with ailerons to level wing. Turning this way keeps your speed up and has the same mechanics as knife edge.

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