Aircraft Motion
Physics of Aircraft
Lift
Drag
Weight and Thrust
Secondary Controls
Stability
Straight and Level
Climbing
Descending
Turning
Aircraft Design Features
The Stall
Practice Exam

Climb Angle vs Climb Rate

Best Climb Angle (VX)

After takeoff, an aircraft in a steady climb forms an angle between its flight path and the ground – this is the angle of climb. A speed that will result in the best climb angle – known as Vx – is stated in the aircraft flight manual.

Most commonly, a pilot will fly at the best angle of climb airspeed when they need to clear an obstacle after take off.

Wind in a Climb

However, this climb angle is affected by the wind.

If a second identical aircraft took off from the same airport but with a steady headwind, the wind would cause the aircraft to travel over the ground at a slower speed. With a slower forward speed, the aircraft will cover less ground while climbing to the same altitude.

Best Climb Rate (VY)

If, after climbing for 3 minutes, both aircraft have reached an altitude of 1,500 feet, the rate of climb would be 500 feet per minute for both aircraft. As you can see, the climb rate is not affected by the wind as the wind will only affect the distance traveled over the ground.

The aircraft flight manual will state an airspeed that results in the best rate of climb – known as VY.