"Dive Away From Wind?"

Only if it's faster than you are.

Chris Hill

I would hope that every one of us learned early on in our training the proper control positions when taxiing whenever there was some wind present. I'm sure we all remember the diagram showing in which quadrant the wind was and how the controls should be positioned to ensure that the wind didn't get the best of things and put our airplane up on a wing tip, or on the prop in the case of a tailwheel airplane.

I know for me, as a student pilot, it was sometimes difficult to remember. I'd go through an intellectual process of ascertaining where the wind was coming from and then visualizing how the ailerons and elevator should be positioned to counter the effect of the wind. ("Windward aileron down and elevator / stabilator trailing edge down.") And when I started my tailwheel training, it became even more important, because I no longer had a "training wheel" out in front to help me out.

Then one day it came to me… if I have a quartering tailwind, don't think about it… just "dive away from the wind." And I have been advising my clients this way ever since.

But in the ensuing years I have seen many tailwheel pilots who are making one very BIG mistake. While they might be "diving away from the wind," unfortunately their taxi speed exceeds the wind speed. So rather than countering the effects of the wind, their control deflections aid and abet that very wind in its effort to upset their carefully laid plans to go flying that day.

So when taxiing a conventional-gear (tailwheel) airplane, pay close attention to not only the direction of the wind, but the wind velocity as well. Be sure that when taxiing with a quartering tailwind to not only position your controls correctly, but also be sure that your taxi speed does not exceed the wind speed.


Doug Stewart is a MCFI, DPE and 2004 National CFI of the Year. He is the Chairman of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators. He operates DSFI, Inc, (www.dsflight.com) out of the Columbia County Airport in Hudson, New York, where he provides instrument, tailwheel and sport pilot instruction._