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Airplane Flying Handbook
Ground Reference Maneuvers
S-Turns Across A Road

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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



Usually, drift should not be encountered on the upwind
or the downwind leg, but it may be difficult to find a
situation where the wind is blowing exactly parallel to
the field boundaries. This would make it necessary to
use a slight wind correction angle on all the legs. It is
important to anticipate the turns to correct for groundspeed,
drift, and turning radius. When the wind is
behind the airplane, the turn must be faster and steeper;
when it is ahead of the airplane, the turn must be
slower and shallower. These same techniques apply
while flying in airport traffic patterns.

Common errors in the performance of rectangular
courses are:
• Failure to adequately clear the area.
• Failure to establish proper altitude prior to
entry. (Typically entering the maneuver while
• Failure to establish appropriate wind correction
angle resulting in drift.
• Gaining or losing altitude.
• Poor coordination. (Typically skidding in turns
from a downwind heading and slipping in turns
from an upwind heading.)
• Abrupt control usage.
• Inability to adequately divide attention between
airplane control and maintaining ground track.
• Improper timing in beginning and recovering
from turns.
• Inadequate visual lookout for other aircraft.


An S-turn across a road is a practice maneuver in
which the airplane's ground track describes semicircles
of equal radii on each side of a selected straight
line on the ground. [Figure 6-5] The straight line may
be a road, fence, railroad, or section line that lies perpendicular
to the wind, and should be of sufficient
length for making a series of turns. A constant altitude
should be maintained throughout the maneuver.

S-turns across a road present one of the most elementary
problems in the practical application of the turn
and in the correction for wind drift in turns. While the
application of this maneuver is considerably less
advanced in some respects than the rectangular course,
it is taught after the student has been introduced to that
maneuver in order that the student may have a knowledge
of the correction for wind drift in straight flight
along a reference line before the student attempt to
correct for drift by playing a turn.

The objectives of S-turns across a road are to develop
the ability to compensate for drift during turns, orient
the flightpath with ground references, follow an
assigned ground track, arrive at specified points on
assigned headings, and divide the pilot's attention. The
maneuver consists of crossing the road at a 90° angle
and immediately beginning a series of 180° turns of
uniform radius in opposite directions, re-crossing the
road at a 90° angle just as each 180° turn is completed.

Figure 6-5. S-Turns.