Steep Turns


Understand theory and practical execution of regular and steep turns.


This is the required reading for this lesson. Numbers in [brackets] indicate the starting and ending page in the referenced reading material. Read all the pages and sections referenced.


The notes below highlight the important parts in the referenced material. Reading the notes without having read the actual referenced material is generally not sufficient to pass the written exam!

PHAK - Chapter 5

  • In order for an aircraft to turn it must be banked.
    • The lift during the bank is divided into vertical and horizontal components.
    • The amount of lift opposing gravity and supporting the aircraft's weight is reduced.
    • The aircraft loses altitude unless additional lift is created.
  • At a given airspeed, the rate at which an aircraft turns depends upon the magnitude of the horizontal component of lift.
  • For a coordinated, constant altitude turn, the approximate maximum bank for the average general aviation aircraft is 60°.
    • This bank and its resultant necessary power setting reach the limit of this type of aircraft.
    • An additional 10° bank increases the load factor by approximately 1 G, bringing it close to the yield point established for these aircraft.

AFH - Chapter 3

  • Classes of turns
    • Shallow - 20° or less
    • Medium - 20° to 45°
    • Steep - 45° or more
  • Coordinated turns
    • The interaction of ailerons during the turn causes the aircraft to yaw in the opposite direction of the turn
    • Use of rudder is required to maintain a coordinated turn
      • A skid is when the pilot may feel that they are being pressed toward the outside of the turn
      • A slip is when the pilot may feel that they are being pressed toward the inside of the turn
  • Initiating turns
    • If the airplane's nose starts to move before the bank starts, the rudder is being applied too soon
    • If the bank starts before the nose starts turning or the nose moves in the opposite direction, the rudder is being applied too late
    • If the nose moves up or down when entering a bank, excessive or insufficient elevator back pressure is being applied.
  • Keep turn stable at 45° angle
  • Rollout from turn
    • The amount of lead required to rollout on the desired heading depends on the degree of bank used in the turn. A rule of thumb is to lead by one-half the angle of bank.
      • If the bank is 30°, lead the rollout by 15°.
      • If the bank is 45° as in a steep turn, lead the rollout by about 25°.
    • The rollout from a turn is similar to the roll-in except the flight controls are applied in the opposite direction
  • Steep turns
    • Require accurate, smooth, and timely flight control inputs
    • Performance can be improved by an appropriate application of power to overcome the increase in drag and trimming additional elevator back pressure as the bank angle goes beyond 30°

AFH - Chapter 9

  • Clear the area
    • Verbal announcement that the altitude is sufficient
    • Clearing turns in both directions while scanning for traffic above and below the aircraft
  • Two steep turns of 45° angle in opposite directions
    • Maintain
      • Entry altitude ±100 feet
      • Airspeed ±10 KIAS
      • Bank ±5°
    • Roll out on the entry heading ±10°
  • It is important to note that many of the situations that require the use of a steep turn are a result of poor decision making.
    • Superior decision making can keep you out of situations requiring the use of superior skill.

Tomas Hansson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Chief Flight Instructor, VATSTAR
DISCLAIMER: all information contained herein is for flight simulation purposes only.
March 2021

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