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Instrument Flying Handbook
Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers Using an Electronic Flight Display
Straight-and-Level flight

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Instrument Flying


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Human Factors
Chapter 2. Aerodynamic Factors
Chapter 3. Flight Instruments
Chapter 4. Section I
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 4. Section II
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 5. Section I
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 5. Section II
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 6. Helicopter
Attitude Instrument Flying

Chapter 7. Navigation Systems
Chapter 8. The National
Airspace System

Chapter 9. The Air Traffic
Control System

Chapter 10. IFR Flight
Chapter 11. Emergency

Various Pitch Altitudes
Figure 5-49. Various Pitch Altitudes (Right), Aircraft Shown in Level Flight.

The attitude indicator only shows pitch attitude and does
not indicate altitude. A pilot should not attempt to maintain
level flight using the attitude indicator alone. It is important
for the pilot to understand how small displacements both up
and down can affect the attitude of the aircraft. To achieve
this, the pilot should practice increasing the pitch attitude
incrementally to become familiar with how each degree of
pitch changes the altitude. [Figures 5-50 and 5-51] In both
cases, the aircraft will slow and gain altitude.

The full height of the chevron is approximately 5° and
provides an accurate reference for pitch adjustment. It is
imperative that the pilot make the desired changes to pitch
by referencing the attitude indicator and then trimming off
any excess control pressures. Relieving these pressures will

Pitch Indications for Various Attitudes (1° through 5°).
Figure 5-50. Pitch Indications for Various Attitudes (1° through 5°).

allow for a more stabilized flight and will reduce pilot work
load. Once the aircraft is trimmed for level flight, the pilot
must smoothly and precisely manipulate the elevator control
forces in order to change the pitch attitude.

To master the ability to smoothly control the elevator, a pilot
must develop a very light touch on the control yoke. The
thumb and two fingers are normally sufficient to move the
control yoke. The pilot should avoid griping the yoke with
a full fist. When a pilot grips the yoke with a full fist, there
is a tendency to apply excess pressures, thus changing the
aircraft attitude.

Practice making smooth, small pitch changes both up and
down until precise corrections can be made. With practice
a pilot will be able to make pitch changes in l° increments,
smoothly controlling the attitude of the aircraft.

The last step in mastering elevator control is trim. Trimming
the aircraft to relieve any control pressures is essential
for smooth attitude instrument flight. To accomplish this,
momentarily release the control yoke. Note which way the
aircraft pitch attitude wants to move. Grasp the control yoke
again and then reapply the pressure to return the attitude
to the previous position. Apply trim in the direction of the
control pressure. Small applications of trim will make large
changes in the pitch attitude. Be patient and make multiple
changes to trim, if necessary.

Once the aircraft is in trim, relax on the control yoke as
much as practicable. When: pressure is held on the yoke,
unconscious pressures are applied to the elevator and ailerons
which displaces the aircraft from its desired flight path. If the
aircraft is in trim, in calm, non-turbulent air, a pilot should be
able to release the control yoke and maintain level flight for
extended periods of time. This is one of the hardest skills to
learn prior to successfully flying in instrument meteorological
conditions (IMC).

Pitch Illustrated at 10°.
Figure 5-51. Pitch Illustrated at 10°.