Taxiing an aircraft is different from driving a car, primarily because power isn’t in the wheels but in the propeller. The prop has to pull (or push) your plane along, and it takes a nudge to get it moving, especially if your plane is parked on grass.
Here’s the typical process for taxiing at an uncontrolled airport (you’ll need to call Ground Control first at controlled airports):
- Push the throttle in enough to get the plane moving forward, then reduce power so it is moving at the pace of a fast walk.
- Reduce the power to idle and gently test the brakes for smooth, even grip, then apply enough power to continue taxiing.
- Use the rudder pedals to direct the aircraft nose, stepping on the pedal on the side you want to go. Make sure you don’t inadvertently hit the brakes.
- As needed, apply the brakes to make a tight turn on a taxiway. Don’t press hard and continuously on the brakes.
- Watch the heading and turn indicators (if equipped) to make sure they’re responding to your movements of the aircraft controls.
- Continue taxiing toward the appropriate runway (which depends on the wind direction) and stop short of the runway for the run-up (your final check before takeoff).
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As you taxi you could be facing a head-, cross-, or tailwind that, if excessive, can push your little plane around. To counteract this, use your control yoke or stick to deflect the wind’s power on your wings. For headwinds and frontal crosswinds, turn the yoke or stick fully toward the wind and keep the elevator neutral. For tailwinds and rear crosswinds, turn the yoke or stick fully away from the wind with the elevators down (controller away from you).
Make sure you know what crosswind your plane can fly in. It’s in the operating handbook. Some older planes do not list a crosswind limit, so ask your instructor.
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