Aviation facts explained in one minute

Is it better to take off with the wind or against the wind?

In aviation everything has a detailed explanation; nothing is casual. Besides, being such an exciting sector, it is normal that it arouses the curiosity of young and old.

For this reason, we have created a series of short, educational videos to answer all those questions that curious minds are constantly asking.

To open the section, we present you one of the most surprising curiosities: have you ever wondered why planes take off against the wind? Wouldn’t it be more logical for them to do so with a tailwind? Well, no!

And since we know you are curious, we will now explain why.

Why do aircraft take off against the wind?

In general, an aircraft, like a boat, prefers a following wind to push it towards destination and reduce travel time. But when it comes take off and landing is a different story.

An aircraft taking off with no wind.

An airplane, like a kite, doesn’t fly due to speed in relation to the ground, but due to the speed of air flowing over the wings.

This is called the ‘Sustaining Principle’ and, yes, it refers to the fact that the air sustains the weight of the plane to keep it in flight. Doesn’t that seem incredible?

An aircraft taking off with the wind.

When taking off with a headwind it slows down the plane in its acceleration respect to the ground, but increases the flow of air over the wings, allowing to take off in a shorter distance and climbing in a greater angle in order to clear any obstacle.

An aircraft taking off with a headwind.

And to make it easier for you to understand, we propose a simple mental exercise. Imagine that you are a passenger in a car and you put your hand out the window.

If you leave your arm loose, the force of the air against it will lift it effortlessly. However, as soon as the car stops and there is no more headwind, your arm will fall off and if you want to keep it up, you will have to do it yourself. Isn’t that logical?

Here’s the video explaining why planes take off in a headwind, which we’ve created especially for you. We hope you like it!

E-ATO 190