Key point:
  • Apply a drift correction to every leg of the circuit
  •  If possible, fly the circuit on the down-wind side of the landing area

The circuit shape should always be the same, with downwind leg parallel (and in the opposite direction) to the landing run. To do this in a crosswind situation requires some practice because we need to apply the drift correction for every leg to prevent us from drifting off  (see Lesson 4.7). If you do not apply drift correction on the base leg, you will either be driven away from the airfield or blown towards it. In both cases you will no longer be flying your leg correctly and the three key factors of the circuit: height, distance and angle won’t be balanced. A good circuit is a prerequisite for a good landing. During crosswind corrections, the yaw string should still be in the middle, because the flight should remain coordinated until just before touchdown. We simply alter our heading so that the track over the ground is correct.

This illustration shows a left-hand and a right-hand circuit. A ‘right-hand’ circuit means that all the turns are to the right. The nose of the glider has to be slightly into the wind on each leg of the circuit to make sure your track over the ground follows your planned circuit. It is easier to do the circuit on the downwind side in a crosswind. In the diagram that means the right-hand circuit is preferable to the left-hand one. The reasons are:

  1. On the downwind leg you have a better view of your landing area because you are crabbing slightly towards it, not away from it. (Crabbing > crabs usually walk sideways, but they can also move for- ward, backward and diagonally.)
  2. On the base leg you have a head wind component instead of a tailwind. This gives you more time.
  3. At the final turn the wind tends to help you stay in position lined up with your reference point instead of blowing you past the approach line you wanted.
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