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Why You Need To Decrease Aileron Correction During A Crosswind Takeoff Roll

Boldmethod

When you think of a perfect crosswind takeoff, you probably think about the moment of rotation. But there's a lot you should be doing during your entire takeoff roll. Here's what you need to know...

Why Does Crosswind Correction Matter On The Ground?

While normal and crosswind takeoff rolls are similar, there's one big difference: aileron input. You must apply aileron pressure into the crosswind. This raises the aileron on the upwind wing, which imposes a downward force on the wing. This counteracts the lifting force of the crosswind, and prevents your upwind wing from rising.

In addition to your ailerons, you need to use your rudder to prevent your plane from weathervaning into the wind. Typically, this means you need to deflect your rudder in the opposite direction of your ailerons (away from the crosswind) to stay on the runway centerline.

Since the ailerons and rudder are deflected, drag will increase. You should expect a marginal loss of takeoff performance until your airplane is in a wings-level climb.

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Start With Full Aileron Input

As you taxi into position at the end of the runway, look at a nearby windsock to double-check the wind's direction. If there's no windsock nearby, glance at your wind direction you wrote down from the METAR, or use external cues like grass/leaves blowing in the wind.

Apply full aileron direction into the wind as you begin your takeoff roll. As the ailerons become effective, you'll feel an increase in pressure on the control wheel. Slowly decrease aileron input as you accelerate, but keep enough deflection in to keep your wings level.

As Speed Increases, Reduce Crosswind Aileron Correction

The effectiveness of your ailerons increases as you accelerate down the runway. Keep only enough pressure in order to keep your wings level. At the same time, use your rudder to keep the airplane pointed parallel with the runway centerline.

After some practice, you'll find the right combination of aileron and rudder to keep you aligned with the centerline, with your wings level, throughout your entire takeoff roll. It's the combination of ailerons and rudder that keeps your takeoff roll smooth.

Not Enough Aileron Correction = Skipping

"If you allow the upwind wing to rise, the amount of wing surface area exposed to the crosswind will increase, which may cause the airplane to skip" (FAA AFH 5-7).

If you feel the airplane making a series of small, sideways bounces, you might be skipping. The airplane is attempting to fly and then settling back on the runway. The side-skipping caused by the crosswind imposes severe side loading stress on your airplane's landing gear, and in extreme cases, structural failure can occur.

If you start skipping, add more aileron into the wind, and add more rudder away from the wind to compensate for the crosswind component.

As You Approach Rotation Speed...

As you reach the point of rotation, a few more things have to happen, which we cover here.

To recap your takeoff roll, start your takeoff roll with full ailerons into the wind and slight rudder input away from the wind. As you accelerate, reduce aileron input to keep your wings level, and step on the rudder to keep your nose pointed down the runway centerline.

With the right combination of aileron and rudder, you'll have a perfectly smooth takeoff roll all the way to rotation.

Take The Next Step...

Do you have a perfect takeoff and landing every time? Neither do we. That's why we built our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course.

You'll learn strategies, tactics and fundamental principles that you can use on your next flight, and just about any takeoff or landing scenario you could imagine. Even better, the course is full of tools you can come back to throughout your flying career.


Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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