Conquer the wind! Landing tricks

Conquer the wind! Landing tricks

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.

Updated: February 18, 2016 — 10:57 AM


  1. This article was incredibly unhelpful. It is written in a way that everyone who knows what the author is talking about will understand it, but very few people who don’t will follow what the author is saying. Diagrams and a clearer definition of what is meant by “the plane’s track” and “where the airplane as a whole is traveling” In the article these are treated as two separate things, but an object’s track over ground IS where it is traveling. Clearer language, and a longer description in general would help new pilots more. Thank you for your continued work.

  2. Yes, I learned this in full-size single engine airplanes years ago. Just keep the ‘center’ of your plane (usually a point just behind the pilot’s head) heading toward the runway and don’t worry about the nose until you are just above the runway and about to stall it on. But it is much easier to make the final correction when sitting in the plane!

  3. Crabbing is one way to deal with a crosswind. But touching down in a crab puts great strain on the landing gear and could tear it off. So just before touchdown the crab must be released and the fuselage pointed straight down the runway. During rollout it’s also a good idea to turn the ailerons into the wind.

    1. You have the right idea but you don’t “release” a crab situation. Crabbing into the wind is pretty much a hands-off wings-level descent. There is nothing to “release”. The airplane is flying naturally in it’s ocean of air. In fact, just prior to touchdown, (and when you have the runway made) and only inches off the ground, you must “inject” rudder to straighten the landing gear down the runway. And at the same time, “inject” aileron as necessary in the direction of the wind to keep that faster moving wing from lifting. You must be very low so that if the other slower moving wing stalls, it will just land that side of the airplane. So what you are doing, an instant before touchdown, is entering a slip.
      Most modelers think that approaching the runway in a crosswind is a busy task. Not on your sticks. But your mind is very busy judging your flight path because it is not going to be where the nose is pointed AND you still have to judge your rate of descent, altitude, airspeed and projected point of touchdown. Then, your sticks get busy at the very last minute entering that slip just inches off the runway.
      It’s OK if you land the upwind wheel first. Better be safe than sorry.

  4. The crab Dave speaks of is the natural wind vane effect flying in a cross wind. Rudder does little to change heading and when flying slow with up elevator and even some aileron you just gave controls for a snap. Fly the plane “to” (not to be confused with “into””) the ground. I watch with horror giant IMAC planes flying in a cross wind landing with enough rudder that you can see it trying to re align with the runway. It’s like the right aileron stick locks and adding a bit of same direction aileron to actually make the plane turn away from the pits is impossible. Have never used rudder in a landing unless it was for fun trying to crab. Not needed!

  5. In Don Dickmann’s article about landing in a crosswind, the last statement in the article just astounds me. What was he thinking of when he stated “” during rollout, it’s also a good idea to turn the ailerons into the wind.” Why and how would one do that???? Not to mention going sideways off of the runway.

  6. Save your retracts for a day with out wind… that’s what Ugly sticks are made for. lol…:)

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