Gusty winds ground aircraft for student pilots


CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, Ill. – Last Friday morning, the St. Louis Downtown Regional Airport reported a crosswind of 25 knots (just under 29 mph), which was well above the threshold to ground the smaller aircraft since the conditions were not conducive to student pilots.

Windy days have the most effect on smaller aircraft on takeoff and landing, especially when it comes to training. As strong gusts come and go, the airplane can gain and lose lift quickly, which takes a lot of adjustments. The planes at Ideal Aviation were grounded because the conditions were not favorable for those learning how to fly.

Helicopters, like our Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX, can also be grounded on windy days but they aren’t as impacted by crosswinds since they can point the helicopter in any direction when they land.

It’s not just the speed of the wind but the direction it’s coming from relative to the runway can make takeoff and landing tricky even for commercial jets. The direction of winds aloft can also affect your flight times for better or worse.

“If you’ve been on final (approach) and you see the nose of the airplane pointing one direction and the runway the other they’re probably fighting a very strong crosswind. So, they’re aiming away from the runway into the wind so that they can travel in a straight line with the runway,” said Rebecca Sewell, a certified flight instructor with Ideal Aviation.

“And then right at the end they’ll straighten it out, land it perfectly on the runway and get you to your destination. But also in the air, it can affect with the headwind will slow the plane down so it will take a little bit longer to get to your destination. And with a tailwind, it’ll get you there faster.”

The wind threshold they use is a crosswind component of 15 knots but that’s not a limitation of the aircraft but depends on the pilot’s skill and ability.

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