As an airplane wing flies through the air an invisible danger swirls in its wake. The aerodynamic phenomenon known as wingtip vortices leaves behind a circular pattern of rotating air. The resulting wake turbulence can be a serious hazard to light aircraft and a firm knowledge of their creation and dissipation is essential to staying safe while in the cockpit.
Wake turbulence is especially hazardous in the region behind an aircraft in the takeoff or landing phases of flight. During takeoff and landing, aircraft operate at high angle of attack. This flight attitude maximizes the formation of strong vortices. In the vicinity of an airport, there can be multiple aircraft, all operating at low speed and low height, and this provides extra risk of wake turbulence with reduced height from which to recover from any upset.
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