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Airplane Flying Handbook
Basic Flight Maneuvers
Straight and Level Flight

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Airplane Flying Handbook


Table of Contents

Chapter 1,Introduction to Flight Training
Chapter 2,Ground Operations
Chapter 3,Basic Flight Maneuvers
Chapter 4, Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins
Chapter 5, Takeoff and Departure Climbs
Chapter 6, Ground Reference Maneuvers
Chapter 7, Airport Traffic Patterns
Chapter 8, Approaches and Landings
Chapter 9, Performance Maneuvers
Chapter 10, Night Operations
Chapter 11,Transition to Complex Airplanes
Chapter 12, Transition to Multiengine Airplanes
Chapter 13,Transition to Tailwheel Airplanes
Chapter 14, Transition to Turbo-propeller Powered Airplanes
Chapter 15,Transition to Jet Powered Airplanes
Chapter 16,Emergency Procedures



• The airplane's attitude is confirmed by referring to
flight instruments, and its performance checked. If
airplane performance, as indicated by flight instruments,
indicates a need for correction, a specific
amount of correction must be determined, then
applied with reference to the natural horizon. The airplane's
attitude and performance are then rechecked
by referring to flight instruments. The pilot then
maintains the corrected attitude by reference to the
natural horizon.

• The pilot should monitor the airplane's performance
by making numerous quick glances at the
flight instruments. No more than 10 percent of the
pilot's attention should be inside the cockpit. The
pilot must develop the skill to instantly focus on
the appropriate flight instrument, and then immediately
return to outside reference to control the
airplane's attitude.

The pilot should become familiar with the relationship
between outside references to the natural horizon and
the corresponding indications on flight instruments
inside the cockpit. For example, a pitch attitude adjustment
may require a movement of the pilot's reference
point on the airplane of several inches in relation to the
natural horizon, but correspond to a small fraction of
an inch movement of the reference bar on the airplane's
attitude indicator. Similarly, a deviation from
desired bank, which is very obvious when referencing
the wingtip's position relative to the natural horizon,
may be nearly imperceptible on the airplane's attitude
indicator to the beginning pilot.

The use of integrated flight instruction does not, and is
not intended to prepare pilots for flight in instrument
weather conditions. The most common error made by the
beginning student is to make pitch or bank corrections
while still looking inside the cockpit. Control pressure is
applied, but the beginning pilot, not being familiar with
the intricacies of flight by references to instruments,
including such things as instrument lag and gyroscopic
precession, will invariably make excessive attitude corrections
and end up "chasing the instruments." Airplane
attitude by reference to the natural horizon, however, is
immediate in its indications, accurate, and presented
many times larger than any instrument could be. Also,
the beginning pilot must be made aware that anytime, for
whatever reason, airplane attitude by reference to the natural
horizon cannot be established and/or maintained, the
situation should be considered a bona fide emergency.

It is impossible to emphasize too strongly the necessity
for forming correct habits in flying straight and
level. All other flight maneuvers are in essence a
deviation from this fundamental flight maneuver.
Many flight instructors and students are prone to
believe that perfection in straight-and-level flight
will come of itself, but such is not the case. It is not
uncommon to find a pilot whose basic flying ability
consistently falls just short of minimum expected
standards, and upon analyzing the reasons for the
shortcomings to discover that the cause is the inability
to fly straight and level properly.

Straight-and-level flight is flight in which a constant
heading and altitude are maintained. It is accomplished
by making immediate and measured corrections for deviations
in direction and altitude from unintentional slight
turns, descents, and climbs. Level flight, at first, is a matter
of consciously fixing the relationship of the position of
some portion of the airplane, used as a reference point, with
the horizon. In establishing the reference points, the
instructor should place the airplane in the desired position
and aid the student in selecting reference points. The
instructor should be aware that no two pilots see this relationship
exactly the same. The references will depend on
where the pilot is sitting, the pilot's height (whether short
or tall), and the pilot's manner of sitting. It is, therefore,
important that during the fixing of this relationship, the
pilot sit in a normal manner; otherwise the points will not
be the same when the normal position is resumed.

In learning to control the airplane in level flight, it is
important that the student be taught to maintain a light
grip on the flight controls, and that the control forces
desired be exerted lightly and just enough to produce
the desired result. The student should learn to associate
the apparent movement of the references with the
forces which produce it. In this way, the student can
develop the ability to regulate the change desired in
the airplane's attitude by the amount and direction of
forces applied to the controls without the necessity of
referring to instrument or outside references for each
minor correction.

The pitch attitude for level flight (constant altitude) is
usually obtained by selecting some portion of the airplane's
nose as a reference point, and then keeping
that point in a fixed position relative to the horizon.
[Figure 3-3] Using the principles of attitude flying,
that position should be cross-checked occasionally
against the altimeter to determine whether or not the
pitch attitude is correct. If altitude is being gained or
lost, the pitch attitude should be readjusted in relation
to the horizon and then the altimeter rechecked
to determine if altitude is now being maintained. The
application of forward or back-elevator pressure is
used to control this attitude.