Rectangular Course

Definition: a practice maneuver where the pilot tracks a rectangular course along the ground.

Objective: to prepare the student to operate in that traffic pattern. To teach the student to divide his attention between inside and o ut while correcting for wind and maintaining a rectangular ground track.


  • Heading: The way the nose is pointed
  • Course: The intended track along the ground
  • Track: Your actual track along the ground
  • Drift Angle.: The angle between your heading and your track
  • Wind Correction Angle: The correction of the course so that the track will coincide with your intended course. “Crab Angle”

Mechanics: We will fly the rectangular course. To correct for the wind we will have to make a wind correction angle so that our track and course coincide. This wind correction angle is also called a crab angle. Crabbing into the wind consists of turning the aircraft into the wind using the ailerons, until you are flying a straight course along the ground. We will then turn left 90 degrees, and keep the course in that given direction. We will do that so forth and so on until we complete the intended rectangle. The biggest challenge to this maneuver is knowing the wind and being able to adjust for it.


  • Know the direction and velocity of the winds!
  • Track along a road using the crab technique.


  1. Enter the downwind at a 45 degree angle about 800 ft AGL.
  2. Turn the aircraft into the wind until you are flying a straight line along the ground (roads make good references).
  3. Demonstrate the effects of wind while turning.

Common Errors:

  1. Altitude varies more than 100 ft due to being engrossed with the ground track.

Completion Standards

  1. Airspeed +/- 10kts
  2. Altitude +/- 100ft