Chapter 3—Basic Flight Maneuvers

Table of Contents
The Four Fundamentals
Effects and Use of the Controls
Feel of the Airplane
Attitude Flying
Integrated Flight Instruction
Straight-and-Level Flight
Trim Control
Level Turns
Climbs and Climbing Turns
    Normal Climb
    Best Rate of Climb
    Best Angle of Climb
Descents and Descending Turns
    Partial Power Descent
    Descent at Minimum Safe Airspeed
Pitch and Power


When an airplane enters a descent, it changes its flight- path from level to an inclined plane. It is important that the pilot know the power settings and pitch attitudes that will produce the following conditions of descent.


The normal method of losing altitude is to descend with partial power. This is often termed “cruise” or “enroute” descent. The airspeed and power setting recommended by the airplane manufacturer for prolonged descent should be used. The target descent rate should be 400 – 500 f.p.m. The airspeed may vary from cruise airspeed to that used on the downwind leg of the landing pattern. But the wide range of possible airspeeds should not be interpreted to permit erratic pitch changes. The desired airspeed, pitch attitude, and power combination should be preselected and kept constant.


A minimum safe airspeed descent is a nose-high, power assisted descent condition principally used for clearing obstacles during a landing approach to a short runway. The airspeed used for this descent condition is recommended by the airplane manufacturer and normally is no greater than 1.3 VSO. Some characteristics of the minimum safe airspeed descent are a steeper than normal descent angle, and the excessive power that may be required to produce acceleration at low airspeed should “mushing” and/or an excessive rate of descent be allowed to develop.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication