When doing crosswind corrections during taxiing with a tail dragger, is it the same with the tricycle gear or not?

Confused with the elevator part.

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  • $\begingroup$ Such a counterintuitive way to instruct this 😂 Why not state for example stick left forward etc... $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Nov 12, 2023 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


Aileron use is pretty clear cut and is per the diagram. You position the aileron to push down on the into-wind wing.

Elevator is more nuanced. If the propeller slipstream exceeds the wind velocity with a tail wind, you want to elevator up. Say you are taxing and hit soft ground and need more power to keep moving. You don't want the elevator down or you might just start nosing over, with the power, wheel resistance and down elevator together trying to lift the tail.

If you are coasting along at idle with a strong tailwind, technically yes you want the elevator down, but you have to be aware of what the various forces are doing and be ready to change the position, such as in a situation like I described above.

The thing is that any significant application of power will generally cancel out the tailwind and result in the net "headwind" from the prop's slipstream.

As a result I generally never taxi a taildragger with the elevator fully down; rather, if I think the tailwind is exceeding the propeller's slipstream so the net effect is from behind, I'll hold it at neutral . Neutral still gives you a down load with a net tailwind, since the surface is still sloping downhill, but if you judge it wrong and the actual net flow over the tail is coming from the propeller, at least it isn't trying to lift the tail.

At the extremes, if I found the plane nosing over and had to decide what to do with the elevator, if the engine was at idle and there was a very strong tailwind, then I'd apply full down elevator to see if that helps, ready to switch back if that just makes things worse.

In general, if you are taxiing prudently without going crazy on the speed, power and brakes, 90% of the time you'll be taxiing stick back, but elevator neutral is the safest position if there's a strong tailwind and you're not sure whether the air over the tail is from ahead or behind.


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