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As a quick follow-up question to my earlier one about the retail cost of chocks, which wheel(s) typically get the chocks on a GA tricycle-gear plane? Do you buy one roped pair for the nose wheel (make sure your chocks are away before starting up), or two pair for the main gear, or all three (I doubt this, especially on a small plane)?

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To be most effective chocks should be placed on both of the main gear of light aircraft. This prevents the aircraft from rotating or pivoting about the chocked wheel.There's a nice article from the Flight Safety Foundation which talks about this.
The FAA, in an overabundance of caution, advises you to chock ALL the wheels (see AC 20-35C).


Practically speaking, on a flat ramp and a calm day chocking any single wheel is usually enough to keep the airplane where you put it for a short while (say long enough refuel the aircraft, or to get lunch).
When using a single chock my preference in these cases is to chock the nose wheel as it's the most visible (I fly a low-wing airplane, and an inattentive line person who needs to tow the plane could miss a chock on the main gear). With two chocks the main gear should be secured on each side of the aircraft to keep it from pivoting.

For anything longer than that a brief food and fuel stop, or when high winds are anticipated, aircraft should be properly secured (by tying them down and chocking at least one wheel).
In these cases the tiedowns serve as the primary securing mechanism, and the chocks as a secondary mechanism (keeping the plane from rocking fore and aft in high winds and breaking the tiedown ropes).

Note that there is an exception to the "high winds" bit here: If winds strong enough to blow chocks around on the ramp are anticipated, such as a hurricane, the chocks should be removed unless they can be adequately secured to ensure they don't get blown into an aircraft.
Of course if winds that strong are anticipated you should really have flown away before they got to you, or you should be looking for a hangar to weather the storm in.

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For tailwheel aircraft, I chock the main on the side with the door (usually right), and the tail to keep it from pivoting. If there's a tail tie down, I will always tie down the tailwheel, and I will attempt to park into the wind.

As my instructor used to say "the flight's not over till the tailwheel is tied down"

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Normally, the chocks are put on the main wheels (the wheels under the wings).

If you just chock the nose wheel and there is no tie down then the aircraft could pivot/rotate.

Just to clarify the situation... At airports there are two main parking areas, the "ramp" and the parking area. Usually there are tiedowns only in the parking area. Also, the parking area is allocated, so you have to get permission to take up a slot there. When you visit an airport short term most crews therefore park on the ramp and chock the wheels. The problem arises that "short term" might turn into hours or overnight. If strong winds develop, then a poorly chocked aircraft can pivot, come loose and roll away.

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  • $\begingroup$ What if gust locks/control column locks were also used, preventing the nose wheel turning? I ask because in the related question about cost, one of the pictures shows a nose wheel chock. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jul 20 '15 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ @KeithS The nose strut/steering linkage isn't usually what pivots in these cases - the contact patch of the chocked tire scrubs against the ground as the aircraft rotates around it. This can (and does) happen when just one main tire is chocked too, which is why the best thing to do is chock the main gear on both side of the aircraft (or ideally all of the wheels) so the plane can't pivot at all. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jul 20 '15 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ OIC. Good answer. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jul 20 '15 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithS If you chock the aircraft, you may as well do it right. The kind of pilot that just puts a block on the nose wheel then drives off to the square dance is the kind of pilot that ends up with $10,000 repair bills after his plane rolls into some corporate Gulfstream. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden Jul 20 '15 at 21:33

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