Quick quiz: How does the student pilot have the flight controls deflected to taxi correctly in this wind condition? Yoke to the left or the right? Elevator up, down, or neutral?
The student pilot is pondering the same question—but with more than armchair urgency, because the body language of the individual sitting alongside suggests a need to come up with a quick solution.
Was this what the examiner was hoping to observe?
The aircraft is taxiing downwind, heading about 150 degrees. The wind, from 270 degrees, is blowing from the quarter between the right wing and the tail. The student pilot recalls a diagram showing how to taxi with a tailwind component, and relies on a memory trick instructing pilots to “fly away from a tailwind.”
But actions don’t always speak louder than words—popular expressions aside—and the examiner, having become alert to the student pilot’s hesitant action, inquires why it goes like that.
Here’s a tip: The correct answer is not, “That’s what the diagram says to do.”
It would be far more to your benefit to briefly discuss the fact that the recommended control yoke movements deflect the aileron on the right wing down (so a gust of wind can’t get under it) and the elevator or stabilator down, guarding against the same hazard.
Giving an answer like that (without losing your situational awareness or becoming distracted from taxiing) should result in a satisfactory demonstration of Area of Operation II (Preflight Procedures) Task D, Taxiing in the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards. Note that the first of the task’s 12 objectives is to verify that the applicant exhibits “satisfactory knowledge” of safe taxiing procedures. The third objective of the task allows the examiner to ascertain that the applicant “positions the controls properly for the existing wind conditions.”
Don’t forget to reposition your controls when you taxi onto the runway for takeoff! And keep in mind that the practical test standards will soon be replaced by the new airman certification standards.