Taxiing An Airplane

Taxiing an airplane is easy to learn once you get some muscle memory in place.

Taxi Controls

You may already know this, but for most airplanes, you taxi with your feet. Some large planes have a tiller but that is another story for another day. Your foot controls consist of rudder pedals that will control the rudder and, for many planes, also directly control the nosewheel steering.

The rudder pedals themselves are hinged so you can push the top of the pedal for braking. Braking is differential, which means that you can brake differently on each wheel. The right wheel brakes will be applied if you press the top of the right pedal, and vice versa. This can be very helpful to make sharp turns.

How Much Rudder

How much steering do you need? Well, just like a car, you need as much as you need. At higher speeds expect to use less rudder because you should be making very shallow turns. In addition, do not try to leave the runway until you have slowed down to walking speed. Airplanes are very bad at turning compared to cars.

The brakes should be applied together at high speeds and only used differentially when making sharp turns at very slow speeds.

Being Precise

Taxi directly on the taxi line. This line has been painted where it is for a reason. One of these reasons is to give you as much wing clearance as possible near parked aircraft.

How do you keep your nosewheel on the line?

As the line passes under your aircraft it is easy to get a feel for when you are over it personally. If you are sitting in the left seat, steer so that you feel like the line is going under your right leg. This will make it easy to keep the nosewheel right on target.

In general just go slower than you think you should and take your time getting used to steering on the ground.

The yoke doesn’t help you steer on the ground but it does have a purpose while taxiing. More on that later.