To: (Separate email addresses with commas)
From: (Your email address)
You take off and land into the wind for a reason. Here are some good reasons to avoid tailwinds...
Tailwinds are great for performance aloft, when an increased ground speed gets you to your destination quicker. Higher groundspeed can make flying in the traffic pattern tricky.
Because of this increased groundspeed, if you're flying a final approach with a stiff tailwind, you'll be forced to fly a increased rate of descent. This can make it difficult to perform a stabilized approach.
According to a Cessna 172S POH, you should expect a 50% longer takeoff roll with a 10 knot tailwind.
The same goes for landing. For each 2 knots of tailwind in a C172S, add an additional 10% to your landing distance. In the video below, a Boeing 737 floats almost all the way down the runway during a challenging landing in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The extra speed this aircraft had during landing is the same factor that causes many tailwind related accidents...
As you enter your flare on landing with a tailwind, you'll be traveling much faster over the ground than you're probably used to in your airplane, due to a high groundspeed. Maintaining directional control is tough, especially with a quartering tailwind. This pilot wasn't so lucky.
While your rate of climb won't necessarily change with a tailwind, your angle of climb can shift dramatically. If you have a strong tailwind, and a high groundspeed, your angle of climb is decreasing. That can make it harder to clear obstacles ahead of you.
We've had our fair share of flights avoiding tailwind situations. Check out one of the world's most challenging airports... Aspen is known for its tailwinds:
Have you had any experiences dealing with tailwinds? Tell us about them in the comments below.
Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, commercially licensed pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings, and a commercial aviation student at the University of North Dakota. He's the author of the articles, quizzes and lists you love to read every week. Swayne's experience ranges from international flights in a King Air F90 to ferrying a 1943 Grumman Widgeon across the country. You can reach Swayne at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow his flying adventures at http://www.swaynemartin.com.