There’s never a more satisfying feeling than completing the ‘perfect’’ taxi to accompany your perfect flight. Below are some tips and tricks on maintaining alignment with the taxi center lines whilst keeping your speeds real and runway line ups nailed!
Alignment: Most people just use the HUD display to navigate the center line, using the _/_ to align yourself on the taxi line. However, if you are looking for a more realistic approach, try eliminating the HUD leaving just the cockpit view.
The way most pilots keep aligned perfectly on the taxiway is by using their ‘Knees’ as a reference point, or in your case, your ‘virtual knees’. Imagine the yellow taxi line passing between your knees and straight into your crotch! Due to your position in the cockpit, hypothetically letting the yellow line pass straight through the mid-point of your knees will keep the aircraft lined up nicely. (just about half way across the yoke too) If you master this technique, you’ll be able to taxi whilst taking advantage of the 3D cockpit mode, looking left and right while maintaining alignment. See below for example: See how the taxi line is aligned with your crotch?
Tackling corners: Corners are a little more tricky, keeping on the center line is going to be tricky while turning left or right. The best way to keep center when straightening up is by extending your turn. For instants, if you’re turning left, keep the nose gear to the left of the line and vice versa. If you extend your turn you’ll be able to make it in one swift movement as opposed to small increments. See below for an example. The dotted yellow line is where you wan’t your Nose gear to follow. This is the easiest way of keeping center when lining back up:
Speeds: Getting the right speed is crucial, too slow and you’ll become static on sharp corners, too fast and you’ll overshoot the turn. 35KTS is the limit for aircraft in IF, any faster and you’ll risk a violation. 35KTS is far too fast. If you are looking to keep your flight as realistic as possible, keep well under. Aircrafts average 25KTS on straights and no more than 10KTS on corners exceeding 90°. This allows the pilot enough time to estimate the turn and keep alignment. Your best speed will depend greatly on the aircraft, larger planes will require more thust on tight corners, whereas light aircraft will wizz round. Unfortunately, IF does not yet include differential braking, but that’s a different story all together.
Lining up on the runway Making a perfect line up will be achieved by extending your turn point as mentioned. Most airports have a taxi way connecting to the runway close to a perpendicular angle; this is why you’ll need to keep your speed below 10KTS. If you’re in just cockpit mode, keep the line a little to the left/right of your knees on the turn. Make slow movements with your thumb on the rudder and apply thrust if necessary. Once you are more or less lined up, roll forwards a little to allow you to correct yourself if needs be, follow by applying the parking brakes.
I see far too many pilots taxiing to the far left or right of the taxi line, IRL the lines are there for a reason, to allow you to maintain a safe distance form the left and right of the taxiway, and keep you in the center at all times. I also see a large collection of pilots turning sharp corners at 16KTS+, this is only going to cause you to make an unrealistically quick turn or run off the taxiway.
Hopefully these not too complicated tips will improve your taxiing skills and keep your flight as close to the real thing as possible! Of course, you wan’t to get in the air as quick as possible! But to get there you’re going to need to taxi, and keeping yourself aligned is important, especially if you don’t wan’t to be half way down the runway edging closer off the runway and having to make quick rudder movements at 120KTS due to incorrect alignment.
Overall I Hope this helps, give the ‘HUD free’ setting a try, comment your success/failure. Makes it more fun if you ask me.