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Airplane Flying Handbook
Ground Reference Maneuvers
Eights On Pylons (Pylon Eights)

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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 pattern involves flying downwind between the
pylons and upwind outside of the pylons. It may
include a short period of straight-and-level flight while
proceeding diagonally from one pylon to the other.
The pylons selected should be on a line 90° to the
direction of the wind and should be in an area away
from communities, livestock, or groups of people, to
avoid possible annoyance or hazards to others. The
area selected should be clear of hazardous obstructions
and other air traffic. Throughout the maneuver a constant
altitude of at least 500 feet above the ground
should be maintained.

The eight should be started with the airplane on a
downwind heading when passing between the pylons.
The distance between the pylons and the wind velocity
will determine the initial angle of bank required to
maintain a constant radius from the pylons during each
turn. The steepest banks will be necessary just after
each turn entry and just before the rollout from each
turn where the airplane is headed downwind and the
groundspeed is greatest; the shallowest banks will be
when the airplane is headed directly upwind and the
groundspeed is least.

The rate of bank change will depend on the wind
velocity, the same as it does in S-turns and turns
around a point, and the bank will be changing continuously
during the turns. The adjustment of the bank
angle should be gradual from the steepest bank to the
shallowest bank as the airplane progressively heads
into the wind, followed by a gradual increase until the
steepest bank is again reached just prior to rollout. If
the airplane is to proceed diagonally from one turn to
the other, the rollout from each turn must be completed
on the proper heading with sufficient wind correction
angle to ensure that after brief straight-and-level flight,
the airplane will arrive at the point where a turn of the
same radius can be made around the other pylon. The
straight-and-level flight segments must be tangent to
both circular patterns.

Common errors in the performance of elementary
eights are:
• Failure to adequately clear the area.
• Poor choice of ground reference points.
• Improper maneuver entry considering wind
direction and ground reference points.
• Incorrect initial bank.
• Poor coordination during turns.
• Gaining or losing altitude.
• Loss of orientation.

• Abrupt rather than smooth changes in bank angle
to counteract wind drift in turns.
• Failure to anticipate needed drift correction.
• Failure to apply needed drift correction in a
timely manner.
• Failure to roll out of turns on proper heading.
• Inability to divide attention between reference
points on the ground, airplane control, and scanning
for other aircraft.


The pylon eight is the most advanced and most difficult
of the low altitude flight training maneuvers.
Because of the various techniques involved, the pylon
eight is unsurpassed for teaching, developing, and testing
subconscious control of the airplane.
As the pylon eight is essentially an advanced
maneuver in which the pilot's attention is directed
at maintaining a pivotal position on a selected pylon,
with a minimum of attention within the cockpit, it
should not be introduced until the instructor is assured
that the student has a complete grasp of the fundamentals.
Thus, the prerequisites are the ability to make a coordinated
turn without gain or loss of altitude, excellent feel of
the airplane, stall recognition, relaxation with low altitude
maneuvering, and an absence of the error of over

Like eights around pylons, this training maneuver also
involves flying the airplane in circular paths, alternately
left and right, in the form of a figure 8 around
two selected points or pylons on the ground. Unlike
eights around pylons, however, no attempt is made to
maintain a uniform distance from the pylon. In eights on-
pylons, the distance from the pylons varies if there
is any wind. Instead, the airplane is flown at such a
precise altitude and airspeed that a line parallel to the
airplane's lateral axis, and extending from the pilot's
eye, appears to pivot on each of the pylons. [Figure 6-
10] Also, unlike eights around pylons, in the performance
of eights-on-pylons the degree of bank increases
as the distance from the pylon decreases.

The altitude that is appropriate for the airplane being
flown is called the pivotal altitude and is governed by
the groundspeed. While not truly a ground track
maneuver as were the preceding maneuvers, the objective
is similar—to develop the ability to maneuver the
airplane accurately while dividing one's attention
between the flightpath and the selected points on the