Going Against the Wind

Wanda Holderman: May 22, 20120 Comments

My husband is an avid cyclist and will often comment about the challenges of riding into a strong headwind; there have been times he was uncertain how he could make it home. He's been tempted to call and have me pick him up, but just "gutted" it out.

So, I was very intrigued to read an article in an airline magazine featuring an interview with one of their pilots. My aeronautics pea brain was intrigued by his explanation that a headwind could actually be a "good" thing when taking off and landing...huh?

Apparently the primary factor in selecting a runway for takeoff or landing is based on the direction and velocity of the wind. They purposefully want to take off into a headwind because the wind flowing over the wings is what provides the lift. They can then use less runway. 

He explained it like this: A typical takeoff speed is 150 mph, but if there's a headwind of 20 mph, the plane only needs to accelerate to 130 mph to create 150 mph over the wing, so, less time and less runway needed to "generate" the 150 mph. Conversely, if the plane takes off in a 20 mph tailwind, it needs to generate 170 mph to achieve the same 150 mph over the wing.

Mmmmm, I'm going to try to keep this in mind the next time I face "headwinds" like the challenges that regularly come our way in this life (personally and professionally)...it can be a "good" thing and create just the right lifting power to get me to the next place I need to be.

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