Into the Wind

windsockWe do have a windsock for a reason. Aircraft, even helicopter, benefit from taking off and landing into the wind. Not just benefit, strong tail winds may even lead to a crash.

Why?

A wing produces lift when there is enough air flowing over and under it and at a minimum speed. Each aircraft type requires a certain roll speed to get airborne and landing speed to stay afloat during landing.

Headwind Take-off

In the following image we assume that the trainer needs to gather about 30km/h to get enough lift from its wings. When there is no wind, this is the speed it needs achieve on the runway for a take-off. With some headwind this speed will be reduced accordingly, see images.

headwind take off

 

Tailwind Take-off

If you take-off with a significant tail wind, the wing might not be able to produce enough lift and you may overshoot the runway – red-faced, of course.

When we do the mathematics, the following is true for a take-off.

tailwind take off

 

 

Headwind and Tailwind Landings

Landing with a tailwind is outright dangerous. While a gentle breeze is acceptable in certain circumstances, a significant wind will increase the take-off and landing speed and the aircraft is likely overshooting the runway, break the landing gear, or crash.

headwind landing

 

tailwind landing

 

 

 

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