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2 Answers

Turns around a point

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Student Pilot

While performing turns around a point, why must we crab into the wind? Shouldn't varying the angle of bank be sufficient to maintain a constant radius around the point?

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2 Answers

  1. Gary Moore on Aug 02, 2010

    It’s all about the airspeed…..

    From Chapter 6 of the Airplane Flying Handboook – FAA-H-8083-3A

    “The factors and principles of drift correction that are involved in S-turns are also applicable in this maneuver. As in other ground track maneuvers, a constant
    radius around a point will, if any wind exists, require a constantly changing angle of bank and angles of wind correction. The closer the airplane is to a direct downwind
    heading where the groundspeed is greatest, the steeper the bank and the faster the rate of turn required to establish the proper wind correction angle. The more nearly it is to a direct upwind heading where the groundspeed is least, the shallower the bank and the
    slower the rate of turn required to establish the proper wind correction angle. It follows, then, that throughout the maneuver the bank and rate of turn must be gradually varied in proportion to the groundspeed.”

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  2. Brian on Sep 18, 2010

    “It’s all about the airspeed…..”
    Groundspeed Gary. The pilots goal is to maintain a perfect circle with reference to the ground, hence we follow groundspeed. If the pilot wished to make a perfect circle with reference to the airmass then airspeed would be of concern.
    “Shouldn’t varying the angle of bank be sufficient to maintain a constant radius around the point?”
    Yes. However, you might consider that by varying your bank angle you thereby change your crab angle. I doubt this helps you with your confusion though. It sounds like your conceptual understanding of an aircrafts movement within an airmass needs some work.
    I would recommend really digging into the chapter 6 of the AFH that Gary quoted. If you feel like going the extra mile, go buy the book Stick and Rudder and read chapter 6. The chapter is devoted to understanding wind drift and, in my opinion, is one of the better guides out there.

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