Model Airplane Flight Tech: Windy day? Expert landing advice

Model Airplane Flight Tech: Windy day? Expert landing advice

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 guesstimate 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, 1st U.S. R/C Flight School


  1. You can crab your way to the runway and then straighten up using rudder at the last minute or hold the center with rudder and correct with aileron all the way in. Touching down in a crab can ruin your whole day.

    1. You are right, come in with some side force will been or rip the gear out

  2. What a lot of waffle. That makes no sense.

  3. Full-size approaches: Kick-Crab or Slip – teach both. Large airlines use the kick-crab approach to keep low hanging engine pods and/or long wings from potentially touching the ground. Both methods work and some folks like the cockpit view of one and hate the other…


  4. When you ‘slip’ to a landing (use rudder to keep the longitudinal axis of the aircraft aligned with the runway while using opposite rudder) the fuselage is blocking some of the airflow over the downwind wing. That’s not a big deal IF you have enough airspeed. If not? Stall, spin, CRASH!

    1. Opposite AILERON! Sorry. I should proofread!

  5. When I was working on full size crosswind landings, I was taught to put the nose on centerline and then to fly the airplane so that it stayed there! I was not taught how to move the controls but fly the airplane. Now, I know that is hard to do with a model. This’s article says to fly the whole airplane and don’t point it. That has got to be the closest to what I was taught and I get it!

  6. Well when flying full size airplanes, I let the airplane crab into the wind to maintain ground track as the poster mentions. Then before touchdown I kick out the grab with rudder, and lower a wing with aileron to stop the drift, and flare for touchdown. You actually touch down on one wheel. Same with models. I feel this is the safest method, and I have flown in winds up to 50 knots in full size airplanes. Sometimes airliners actually do touch down in a crab because as mentioned they are very limited in the ability to lower a wing to stop drift. Their landing gear is designed to endure side loads. Watch some Youtube videos of airliners doing windy landings some time…

Comments are closed.

Air Age Media ©
WordPress Lightbox