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6 Dangers Of Tailwinds During Takeoff And Landing

You take off and land into the wind for a reason. Here are some good reasons to avoid tailwinds...

1) Increased Groundspeed

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.

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2) Increased Rate Of Descent

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.

Aleksander Markin

3) Increased Takeoff Distance

According to a Cessna 172S POH, you should expect a 50% longer takeoff roll with a 10 knot tailwind.

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4) Increased Landing Distance

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...

5) Reduced Directional Control

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.

Swayne Martin

6) Poor Obstacle Clearance

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.

Aspen Airport Operations

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 Martin

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 swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures at http://www.swaynemartin.com.

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