Planes: Why Do They Take Off Into the Wind?


Contrary to what some may think, it is preferable that planes take off against the direction of the wind rather than with it. You would think that taking off against the wind provides resistance and, in turn, causes the plane to use more fuel to pass through. And, you would think that taking off with the wind seems easier, because the wind would give the plane a little push to reach a higher altitude faster. But you’d be wrong.

Taking off against the wind is better because it’s easier to gain altitude in a shorter time frame and with less speed. The wind provides a force against the plane’s wings which helps lift the plane into the air instead of impeding it. Actually, in order to fly, planes use airflow going over and under the wings to lift them.

According to Snorri Gudmundsson, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University assistant professor, a plane must accelerate 30 mph more if there is little-to-no windspeed present during takeoff. Of course, it’s not realistic that the weather and wind will be ideal for every takeoff; but, when given the opportunity, pilots will take advantage of taking off into the wind.

The same principles apply to landing. It is much more efficient to land against the wind because it reduces the distance the plane must travel after landing on the runway. The wind puts force against the plane’s wings—as it does during takeoff—in order to come to a quicker halt. Going with the wind would just push the plane faster.

To sum it up, it is more efficient for planes to take off as well as land against the wind. This allows for the plane to use less ground speed to take off into the air and land on the runway.

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