The following basic taxi information is applicable to both nosewheel and tailwheel airplanes.
Taxiing is the controlled movement of the airplane under its own power while on the ground. Since an airplane is moved under its own power between the parking area and the runway, the pilot must thoroughly understand and be proficient in taxi procedures.
An awareness of other aircraft that are taking off, landing, or taxiing, and consideration for the right-ofway of others is essential to safety. When taxiing, the pilot’s eyes should be looking outside the airplane, to the sides, as well as the front. The pilot must be aware of the entire area around the airplane to ensure that the airplane will clear all obstructions and other aircraft. If at any time there is doubt about the clearance from an object, the pilot should stop the airplane and have someone check the clearance. It may be necessary to have the airplane towed or physically moved by a ground crew.
It is difficult to set any rule for a single, safe taxiing speed. What is reasonable and prudent under some conditions may be imprudent or hazardous under others. The primary requirements for safe taxiing are positive control, the ability to recognize potential hazards in time to avoid them, and the ability to stop or turn where and when desired, without undue reliance on the brakes. Pilots should proceed at a cautious speed on congested or busy ramps. Normally, the speed should be at the rate where movement of the airplane is dependent on the throttle. That is, slow enough so when the throttle is closed, the airplane can be stopped promptly. When yellow taxiway centerline stripes are provided, they should be observed unless necessary to clear airplanes or obstructions.
When taxiing, it is best to slow down before attempting a turn. Sharp, high-speed turns place undesirable side loads on the landing gear and may result in an uncontrollable swerve or a ground loop. This swerve is most likely to occur when turning from a downwind heading toward an upwind heading. In moderate to high-wind conditions, pilots will note the airplane’s tendency to weathervane, or turn into the wind when the airplane is proceeding crosswind.
When taxiing at appropriate speeds in no-wind conditions, the aileron and elevator control surfaces have little or no effect on directional control of the airplane. The controls should not be considered steering devices and should be held in a neutral position. Their proper use while taxiing in windy conditions will be discussed later. [Figure 2-10]
Steering is accomplished with rudder pedals and brakes. To turn the airplane on the ground, the pilot should apply rudder in the desired direction of turn and use whatever power or brake that is necessary to control the taxi speed. The rudder pedal should be held in the direction of the turn until just short of the point where the turn is to be stopped. Rudder pressure is then released or opposite pressure is applied as needed.
More engine power may be required to start the airplane moving forward, or to start a turn, than is required to keep it moving in any given direction. When using additional power, the throttle should immediately be retarded once the airplane begins moving, to prevent excessive acceleration.
When first beginning to taxi, the brakes should be tested for proper operation as soon as the airplane is put in motion. Applying power to start the airplane moving forward slowly, then retarding the throttle and simultaneously applying pressure smoothly to both brakes does this. If braking action is unsatisfactory, the engine should be shut down immediately.
The presence of moderate to strong headwinds and/or a strong propeller slipstream makes the use of the elevator necessary to maintain control of the pitch attitude while taxiing. This becomes apparent when considering the lifting action that may be created on the horizontal tail surfaces by either of those two factors. The elevator control in nosewheel-type airplanes should be held in the neutral position, while in tailwheel-type airplanes it should be held in the aft position to hold the tail down.
The application of these crosswind taxi corrections helps to minimize the weathervaning tendency and ultimately results in making the airplane easier to steer.