Pick a day when the wind is near the limit of your comfort. Now, keep the plane up wind of you, but let it get close to you. Now work your way back up over and over again. Do this till you are confident you can move against the wind with no problem.
This is how you prepare for being down wind. If you are down wind you must come back against the wind. Practice while you are upwind and you will be more prepared to do it if you get downwind.
Now, can you do it without the motor?
If you are downwind and the motor quits, for whatever reason. Will you lose your plane or will you know how to come upwind in a glide?
Practice this while the plane is upwind till you can do it with confidence.
STAYING UP WIND
by Ed Anderson
aeajr on the forums
One of the skills you must develop at a new pilot is how to keep your plane
up-wind. Regardless of how windy it is, unless it is dead calm, you will
always be dealing with the flow of the river of air. When you are new, 5
mph may feel like a windy day. Then you become confident in 5 mph and that
is a calm day. Then 8 mph is the challenge. Then you work on 10 and 12 and
who knows. I fly gliders, no motors at all, in 20 mph winds.
Regardless of how much wind you feel comfortable with, you need to be able
to keep your plane up wind. Most of the reports I read about new pilots
losing their plane include how they let it get down wind. Once the plane is
down wind from you it can be very hard to get it back, especially when your
skills are not well developed.
Very often the plane gets down wind when we are flying a circular or square
pattern. That is, you launch and fly out, into the wind. Then you are
flying across the wind where the plane will tend to drift toward you. Going
up wind the plane will move more slowly across the ground then when it comes
down wind. When this happens the plane can get past you before you have a
chance to react. Some pilots freeze when this happens and find the plane is
way down wind in short order.
Here are some tips on keeping the plane up wind.
1) Plan your turns in advance. - Before you launch, plan where your pattern
will be, in the sky. Use ground reference points, points that you do now
want to pass. NEVER plan to have the plane fly over your head. Keep it at
least 50 feet in front of you. Mark a spot on the ground in front of you
and keep in your head that the plane must never come closer to you than that
mark. If it does, you are on the verge of trouble.
2) Keep down wind runs short. - You might fly 30 seconds into the wind but
the down wind leg of that circle or square may only be 5 seconds, depending
on wind speed. Plan where you are going to make your turn. If it is a
windy day, make the turn sooner than usual. As you fly the cross wind parts
of that circle or box pattern, the plane will tend to drift down wind. So,
turn sooner to keep the plane in front of you. And make sure it does not
cross that 50 foot line from tip 1.
3) Use a figure 8 pattern rather than a circle. - Rather than using a
circular or square pattern around the field, use a figure 8. The advantage
is that the plane is flying into the wind most of the time which will make
it easier to keep it upwind. A figure 8 is nothing more than two smaller
circles, one clockwise and one counter clock wise. Using a figure 8 you can
stay up wind more easily. It is also excellent practice for left and right
4) Keep all turns into the wind. - Another approach is don't make any turns
that put your plane on a completely down wind path. Fly up wind, then turn
across the wind. As the wind tries to put the plane behind you, turn into
the wind again.
How does this work? If we think of a typical circuit around the field, we
might think of it as a box with 4 right turns; flying up wind, right turn
across wind, right turn down wind, right turn across wind, then right turn
up wind again to complete the box. Rather than doing that, try this
pattern. Fly up wind, right turn across wind, then left turn up wind, then
left turn across the wind, then right turn up wind. The cross wind legs
will tend to bring the plane back toward you.
This is called an S pattern and it eliminates all down wind turns. This
makes it much easier to stay up wind. It also eliminates all turns toward
you which avoids the issue of getting confused about which way to turn when
the plane is coming toward you fast and is about to get past you, going down
Just a few tips on how to improve your windy day flying.