Chapter 6—Ground Reference Maneuvers

Purpose and Scope
Maneuvering By Reference to Ground Objects
Drift and Ground Track Control
Rectangular Course
S-Turns Across a Road
Turns Around a Point
Elementary Eights
    Eights Along a Road
    Eights Across a Road
    Eights Around Pylons
    Eights-On-Pylons (Pylon Eights)
Table of Contents


Turns around a point, as a training maneuver, is a logical extension of the principles involved in the performance of S-turns across a road. Its purposes as a training maneuver are:

  • To further perfect turning technique.
  • To perfect the ability to subconsciously control the airplane while dividing attention between the flightpath and ground references.
  • To teach the student that the radius of a turn is a distance which is affected by the degree of bank
  • used when turning with relation to a definite object.
  • To develop a keen perception of altitude.
  • To perfect the ability to correct for wind drift while in turns.

In turns around a point, the airplane is flown in two or more complete circles of uniform radii or distance from a prominent ground reference point using a maximum bank of approximately 45° while maintaining a constant altitude.

The factors and principles of drift correction that are involved in S-turns are also applicable in this maneuver. As in other ground track maneuvers, a constant radius around a point will, if any wind exists, require a constantly changing angle of bank and angles of wind correction. The closer the airplane is to a direct downwind heading where the groundspeed is greatest, the steeper the bank and the faster the rate of turn required to establish the proper wind correction angle. The more nearly it is to a direct upwind heading where the groundspeed is least, the shallower the bank and the slower the rate of turn required to establish the proper wind correction angle. It follows, then, that throughout the maneuver the bank and rate of turn must be gradually varied in proportion to the groundspeed.

The point selected for turns around a point should be prominent, easily distinguished by the pilot, and yet small enough to present precise reference. [Figure 6-6] Isolated trees, crossroads, or other similar small landmarks are usually suitable.

Turns around a point

Figure 6-6. Turns around a point.

To enter turns around a point, the airplane should be flown on a downwind heading to one side of the selected point at a distance equal to the desired radius of turn. In a high-wing airplane, the distance from the point must permit the pilot to see the point throughout the maneuver even with the wing lowered in a bank. If the radius is too large, the lowered wing will block the pilot’s view of the point.

When any significant wind exists, it will be necessary to roll into the initial bank at a rapid rate so that the steepest

bank is attained abeam of the point when the airplane is headed directly downwind. By entering the maneuver while heading directly downwind, the steepest bank can be attained immediately. Thus, if a maximum bank of 45° is desired, the initial bank will be 45° if the airplane is at the correct distance from the point. Thereafter, the bank is shallowed gradually until the point is reached where the airplane is headed directly upwind. At this point, the bank should be gradually steepened until the steepest bank is again attained when heading downwind at the initial point of entry.

Just as S-turns require that the airplane be turned into the wind in addition to varying the bank, so do turns around a point. During the downwind half of the circle, the airplane’s nose is progressively turned toward the inside of the circle; during the upwind half, the nose is progressively turned toward the outside. The downwind half of the turn around the point may be compared to the downwind side of the S-turn across a road; the upwind half of the turn around a point may be compared to the upwind side of the S-turn across a road.

As the pilot becomes experienced in performing turns around a point and has a good understanding of the effects of wind drift and varying of the bank angle and wind correction angle as required, entry into the maneuver may be from any point. When entering the maneuver at a point other than downwind, however, the radius of the turn should be carefully selected, taking into account the wind velocity and groundspeed so that an excessive bank is not required later on to maintain the proper ground track. The flight instructor should place particular emphasis on the effect of an incorrect initial bank. This emphasis should continue in the performance of elementary eights.

Common errors in the performance of turns around a point are:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area.
  • Failure to establish appropriate bank on entry.
  • Failure to recognize wind drift.
  • Excessive bank and/or inadequate wind correction angle on the downwind side of the circle resulting in drift towards the reference point.
  • Inadequate bank angle and/or excessive wind correction angle on the upwind side of the circle resulting in drift away from the reference point.
  • Skidding turns when turning from downwind to crosswind.
  • Slipping turns when turning from upwind to crosswind.
  • Gaining or losing altitude.
  • Inadequate visual lookout for other aircraft.
  • Inability to direct attention outside the airplane while maintaining precise airplane control.

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PED Publication