How to Avoid Wingtip Strikes Taxiing in a Strong Wind

Then to make things a bit more intimidating, your instructor tunes the radio and listens to a monotonous broadcast delivered by a bored air traffic controller. “Information lima, altimeter two niner niner two, winds from two eight five at 10, gusts to 15, use runway two eight…”

Before you can ask what did all that mean, she does something to the altimeter, tunes the radio again and, after listening for a few seconds, says, “Livermore Ground, this is Cessna one two two four golf, at Smith Aviation with lima, taxi for takeoff.” The radio unceremoniously says, “two four golf, taxi runway two eight, caution Citation on taxiway sierra.”

Next a ritual you will repeat many times: She says, “I’ve got it.” You know to say, “You’ve got it.” Then she repeats, “I’ve got it.”

You take your feet off the brakes, hand off the throttle and sit back.

She explains over the intercom that the airplane needs a little extra power to get going, and less power to keep rolling. She looks around carefully, pushes the right rudder pedal all the way forward, advances the throttle in a bit more and starts the airplane moving. Once the airplane is moving and turning, she reduces the throttle a bit. Once the airplane points in the right direction, she pushes on the left rudder pedal to straighen the airplane.

You ask, “Why didn’t you use the wheel.” Then remember that you had been told that the rudder pedals were linked to the nose-wheel steering. No reason to be embarrassed. This is your first lesson and you’re paying $150 an hour to ask stupid questions.

After arriving at the run up area near the approach end of the runway, your instructor easily turns the airplane into the wind. She explains the purposes and techniques used in a ‘run up.’ She pulls a piece of plastic-encased paper and starts to systematically read each item aloud as she performs each check.

You start to worry. Doesn’t she know how to fly? Isn’t this a little late to be reading the instructions? She sees your blood-drained face and explains that all pilots use checklists while performing even the most practiced tasks to ensure that they never omit details.

She exchanges a few more brusque phrases over the radio, looks for airplanes approaching the runway, moves the flight controls through their full range of movement, taxies onto the active runway, lines up over the center stripe, pushes the throttle all the way in, and starts her takeoff roll.

You think, “I was right. Move the throttle forward to go faster.”

In the next post, learn how to control airspeed with elevator, rate of climb or descent with throttle, how to turn, how and why to keep the ball in the center, and much more. Look for ‘P-factor: Causes and Cures.’

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