How does the pilot determine he is on the yellow taxi line at all times, since he doesn't have a direct view to the ground below? I am sure there must be some equipment, but I just don't know what.

  • $\begingroup$ How do you stay between the lines on the road when driving, when (with many cars) you can't actually see them by looking out the side windows, but only some distance ahead? Same principle applies to planes. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 17 '18 at 2:36

For most aircraft: It is just something that you learn. As you approach a line, you have a general sense of where the line is, because you can see the line continue in front of you. This also applies to turning, where you are familiar with the turn radius, and have a sense of where it is. It is similar to a car, in that you can drive down the center line of the road, and still know it is underneath. Scale is just increased.

For tail-draggers: A tail-dragger is an aircraft that has two front wheels, and one rear wheel, meaning the aircraft is typically pitched up when on the ground. In this situation, the pilot zigzags across the taxiway, looking roughly 30 degrees front left or front right, checking the area in front of him. This isn't so much for following the line though, as it is for ensuring you're not about to hit anything in front of you.


Please let me know if there are any clarifications I can add!

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    $\begingroup$ I've added an image of a tail-dragger (or tail-wheel) aircraft just to give you an idea - line of sight is tough! $\endgroup$ – M28 Oct 16 '18 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ I'd be very happy zigzagging down the taxiway in that beautiful plane. $\endgroup$ – Wayne Conrad Oct 16 '18 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ As an aside, as you taxi out, if you make the yellow line go right between your legs (you can't look down and see it but you still can tell by other cues as noted in the answer), and make sure you are going in a straight line (i.e. staying right on the yellow line), and memorize the exact spot on the front edge of the cowl (say, like 1 inch right of this particular screw or something) where the yellow line comes into view in front of you, you now have a "gunsight" that will help you deal with left/right visual asymmetry inherent in side-by-side seating. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Oct 17 '18 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ Put that "gunsight" spot equally high above the horizon (or below as the case may be) in left and right turns at some given airspeed, The tendency for newer pilots is to tend to put the nose too high in left turns and too low in right turns, if they are sitting in the left seat, because they are "gunsighting" on a spot too close to the centerline of the cowl. Even experienced left-seat pilots may have similar issues when flying from the right seat until they get used to it. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Oct 17 '18 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ PS likely only practical in tricycle gear a/c because you can't easily look over nose and see yellow line in tailwheel a/c. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Oct 17 '18 at 3:31

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