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Airplane Flying Handbook
Performance Maneuvers
Steep Turns

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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



An airplane's maximum turning performance is its
fastest rate of turn and its shortest radius of turn, which
change with both airspeed and angle of bank. Each
airplane's turning performance is limited by the
amount of power its engine is developing, its
limit load factor (structural strength), and its
aerodynamic characteristics.

The limiting load factor determines the maximum
bank, which can be maintained without stalling or
exceeding the airplane's structural limitations. In most
small planes, the maximum bank has been found to be
approximately 50° to 60°.

The pilot should realize the tremendous additional load
that is imposed on an airplane as the bank is increased
beyond 45°. During a coordinated turn with a 70°
bank, a load factor of approximately 3 Gs is placed on
the airplane's structure. Most general aviation type
airplanes are stressed for approximately 3.8 Gs.

Regardless of the airspeed or the type of airplanes
involved, a given angle of bank in a turn, during which
altitude is maintained, will always produce the same
load factor. Pilots must be aware that an additional load
factor increases the stalling speed at a significant
rate—stalling speed increases with the square root of
the load factor. For example, a light plane that stalls at
60 knots in level flight will stall at nearly 85 knots in a
60° bank. The pilot's understanding and observance of
this fact is an indispensable safety precaution for the
performance of all maneuvers requiring turns.

Before starting the steep turn, the pilot should ensure
that the area is clear of other air traffic since the rate of
turn will be quite rapid. After establishing the
manufacturer's recommended entry speed or the
design maneuvering speed, the airplane should be
smoothly rolled into a selected bank angle between 45
to 60°. As the turn is being established, back-elevator
pressure should be smoothly increased to increase the
angle of attack. This provides the additional wing lift
required to compensate for the increasing load factor.

After the selected bank angle has been reached, the
pilot will find that considerable force is required on the
elevator control to hold the airplane in level flight—to
maintain altitude. Because of this increase in the force
applied to the elevators, the load factor increases
rapidly as the bank is increased. Additional
back-elevator pressure increases the angle of attack,
which results in an increase in drag. Consequently,
power must be added to maintain the entry altitude
and airspeed.

Eventually, as the bank approaches the airplane's
maximum angle, the maximum performance or
structural limit is being reached. If this limit is
exceeded, the airplane will be subjected to excessive
structural loads, and will lose altitude, or stall. The
limit load factor must not be exceeded, to prevent
structural damage.

During the turn, the pilot should not stare at any one
object. To maintain altitude, as well as orientation,
requires an awareness of the relative position of the
nose, the horizon, the wings, and the amount of bank.
The pilot who references the aircraft's turn by
watching only the nose will have difficulty holding
altitude constant; on the other hand, the pilot who
watches the nose, the horizon, and the wings can
usually hold altitude within a few feet. If the altitude
begins to increase, or decrease, relaxing or increasing
the back-elevator pressure will be required as
appropriate. This may also require a power adjustment
to maintain the selected airspeed. A small increase or
decrease of 1 to 3° of bank angle may be used to
control small altitude deviations. All bank angle
changes should be done with coordinated use of
aileron and rudder.

The rollout from the turn should be timed so that the
wings reach level flight when the airplane is exactly
on the heading from which the maneuver was started.
While the recovery is being made, back-elevator
pressure is gradually released and power reduced, as
necessary, to maintain the altitude and airspeed.

Common errors in the performance of steep turns are:
• Failure to adequately clear the area.
• Excessive pitch change during entry or recovery.
• Attempts to start recovery prematurely.
• Failure to stop the turn on a precise heading.
• Excessive rudder during recovery, resulting in
• Inadequate power management.
• Inadequate airspeed control.
• Poor coordination.
• Gaining altitude in right turns and/or losing
altitude in left turns.
• Failure to maintain constant bank angle.
• Disorientation.
• Attempting to perform the maneuver
by instrument reference rather than visual
• Failure to scan for other traffic during the