Beginner questions

So I’ve been flight simming properly for a few weeks now and am trying to play ‘correctly’, following Howard Forder’s excellent courses on Skillshare and Udemy.

I have a couple of things I’m not sure about and if I’m doing it right.

  1. The first is runways. I understand that runways are numbered according to the angle from magnetic north but I’m not one hundred percent right about which way to travel when the tower directs me to a runway.

Take Exeter, my local. It has runways 26 and 08. Let’s say they tell me to use runway 26;

The taxi lane opens midway onto the runway with 26 written at one end and 08 at the other. I’ve been taxiing down towards 08 and then turning and then flying out towards 26.

But now I’m thinking that might be wrong and I’m supposed to taxi to the 26 number and turn and take off the opposite direction?

Which is it?

  1. Similar question about wind. I’m told to take off into the wind. But does ‘into the wind’ mean in the same direction the wind is blowing, so I’m carried along by it with it blowing me down the runway, or does it mean I fly in the opposite direction to the wind so that it smashes my plane in the face as it were?

Hope I can help

  1. If ATC tell you to use RWY26, then at take-off you should be FACING about 260 degrees. If you have to taxi on the runway rather than a taxiway, you would enter the runway (which is called 08/26), turn towards 080 degrees and taxi to the end, then turn around so you are now facing 260 degrees. This means you are now using rwy 26.

  2. You want to the wind ‘in your face’, so if the wind is 260 degree at say 10 knots, you should be facing about 260 degrees. This means that the take-off will be into or against the wind. Hence, your take off will be shorter and you should have better control over the aircraft.


Ah gotcha, that makes sense. I never actually look at my compass on the runway even though I learnt the runway numbers are compass headings! I was just heading towards the number on the runway and taking off from it. I will load it up now and have a look!

The wind seems counter-intuitive to me, I’d have thought the wind behind you would help you lift better because it’s pushing you along.

It’s fascinating learning all this stuff, I find this sim incredibly rewarding intellectually. Even doing the same checklists over and over and starting to understand a bit more each time.


Indeed a fascinating part of life. No, the wind behind you will cause you to use a lot more runway for one thing. In a small GA type aircraft that may not be problematic, but for a larger or jet aircraft for instance, the difference is likely to be significant. The ground speed (over the ground - not what your airspeed indicator is telling you) will also be very different.
if you think of taking off say at 70 knots, into a 10 knot wind, your ground speed is 60 knots, but with a tailwind (behind you), it becomes 80 knots. In larger aircraft this has other considerations such how fast you would be travelling on the runway if you had to reject/abort the take off.


wait until you get into some more serious aircraft such as the CRJ (payware), and others coming out soon.

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All I’ve flown so far is the Cessna 152 and the new ultralite Asobo just released. I feel like there’s enough in this game for a lifetime.


In brief: runway numbers are the direction they face and wind numbers are the direction from which the wind blows; always go to the runway number directed by ATC and always take off and land into the wind to get most lift for lower take off and landing GROUND speeds and shorter take off and landing distances. Cheers.

BTW, are you OK with circuit/pattern terms - left and right hand circuits, crosswind, downwind, base and final?



The wind confusion comes because wind direction is traditionally specified in terms of where it comes from rather than where it is blowing towards.

Hence a “southerly wind” is blowing from the South towards the North. If you turn to face south a southerly wind will be blowing into your face. Hence if the METAR says the wind is 250 degrees at 7 knots and you were standing on the ground and faced towards 250 degrees you would get a 7 knot wind blowing directly in your face.


Runways are numbered to the nearest 10 degrees. This means not all runways will exactly match the number, a runway tracking 266 degrees would be labelled runway 27 as would a runway tracking 274 degrees. Some real world runways are built to exactly track the 10 degree runway number but more often than not real runways are a bit random and off by a few degrees.

The runway number and the number painted on the end are based on the direction you are tracking when you land. If you are landing on Runway 27 you will be tracking 270 degrees as you land and the number you fly over as you flare will be 27. If you are taking off on runway 27 you would enter or back track to the end with the number 27 painted on it and then turn to face 270 degrees to take off. Note that in either case you are flying 270 degrees and the number is on the end you start at whether landing or taking off.


Crosswind components are more complicated and in the old days needed you to know some trigonometry but these days your G1000 etc will usually have a setting that will show the current wind direction and break it up into head/tail wind and crosswind components and display it for you on the MFD in the cockpit.

Ah I’ve definitely been doing the runway wrong then. Take off at 26 instructions, I’ve always travelled down the runway to the 06 then turned and accelerated so I pass over the 26 end. Sounds like I’ve been going the wrong way!

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now you know though. It’s long learning process, but a lot of fun… Keep asking questions.


Trying to have you all as solving it but seems to only allow me to pick one of you!

Thanks for clearing this up everyone, it’s been puzzling me for a while!

Thanks for this info I did not know the runway number was related to the heading.

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That could cause some “interesting” traffic issues if an airfield is “landing and taking off on 26” and you went to 06 to take off, you would be taking off directly towards anyone coming in on final to land on 26 forcing a go around or worse :smiley:

ATC would not be happy.

Following on from my post above, take a look at this little freebie beautie:


Glad my idiocy has been useful to others!


I’m starting to learn the circuit patterns, but it’s all confusing to me. in the Cessna 152 there isn’t any instrument as far as I can tell that gives the wind direction so I have no idea what crosswind and downwind are when I’m flying.

I’ve got the landing assist on that gives you massive squares in the sky to fly through so I can see where I’m supposed to go.

Hmm nice bit of easy, light reading!

Your not an idiot for not knowing something, was new to all of us at some point. If your learning from it then your not an idiot. It took me months to know how to use nav systems on various planes when I started on xplane 11 a year before the msfs release. You will get it in the end just have to not give up.


Thankfully it’s super relaxing and enjoyable flying, still learning a little every day and sometimes it’s nice to have a little a ha moment and learn something I never knew before. Since buying this in December I’ve literally not played any other game.


The World Map gives wind info for departure and arrival airports. Also, look out for windsocks, although some airports do not have them. Cheers.