As a new instrument student, I would like to know the best and efficient way to determine a rough wind correction angle. Calculating it with help of the e6b or other ways is often good to do before flight, but is not practical to do in flight, especially when dealing with various other tasks. As the wind is constantly changing in direction and strength, I am wondering if there might be a good rule of thumb or other tricks one might use to determine a rough WCA. Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ Closely related, maybe a dupe? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Nov 24, 2021 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ I made it through Instrument training without needing to calculate a WCA in the air, just trial and error to figure out where I needed to point the nose to keep the needle centered. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Nov 24, 2021 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


There are 2 methods to use whilst in-flight. Both start with a "max drift" calculation which is pretty easy to do:

$$\text{max drift} = {60 \over \text{TAS}} \times \text{wind speed}$$

Therefore, for the most part, in many typical GA aircraft you're looking at about 2/3 the windspeed.

I prefer the simpler "clock" method.

Now the "clock" part is that you determine in-flight what the wind direction is with reference to your heading.

  • 30 degrees - "half hour" - half the WCA
  • 45 degrees - "three quarters of an hour" - three quarters of the WCA
  • 60 degrees - "a whole hour" - all the WCA

The other method uses your Direction Indicator to visualise the crosswind component. It also has the advantage of being able to use a similar method to visualise the head/tailwind component too.

It is very well illustrated in this article


Ditch the E6B and get a Jeppessen CR3 circular computer. The wind correction computer on the back uses concentric circular discs only, no slidey bit, so it's easy to manipulate with one hand. You'll have to locate your pencil dot that you use to mark the wind direction and speed on the wind disc in your mind if you're only using one hand, but you can get pretty close that way.

Practice with it and you'll find you can hold the wind side up, spin the discs with your thumb, and eyeball a wind solution, based on your mental placement of the "wind mark", in about 10 seconds.

Spend some time messing around with it, working out solutions for a range of winds and directions, say, 30, 60 an 90 degrees off the nose or tail, and wind speeds of 10, 20 and 30 kts, at your cruise speed, and pretty soon you will be able to make instant ballpark guesses for drift correction and groundspeed that are good enough, unless you are trying to hit a small island in the middle of the Pacific.

  • $\begingroup$ still not really practical in flight if you're an inexperienced instrument pilot. You forget just how overwhelming it can be. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Nov 24, 2021 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ That was the point of my last paragraph. I can just make a mental image of the wind dial and make a close enough guess. Main thing is get rid of the E6B for a proper professional circular computer. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Nov 24, 2021 at 17:57

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