Flight Lesson – Steep turns

This video shows me taxiing and practicing steep turns maneuvre on Cessna 172R at my favorite place to fly – CNU8. There was a 9kt crosswind and instructor let me perform a circuit with a cross-wind approach up until 200 feet before touchdown. Next time I will try to record intercom and sync it to video (Failed to do so this time).

There are 3 types of turns:

  1. Gentle turn: 15°
  2. Medium turn: 15-30°
  3. Steep turns: 30+°

Steep turns are one of the most difficult maneuvres to fly. The objective of the steep turn maneuvres is to develop the smoothness, coordination, orientation, division of attention, and control techniques necessary for the execution of maximum performance turns when the airplane is near its performance limits. It involves several actions performed sequentially to maintain constant airspeed, altitude and bank angle.


Here are the procedures:

  1. Check for traffic
  2. Apply rudder (To maintain coordinated flight)
  3. Apply Pitch to 45°
  4. Add Power to 2200 RPM at 30+ °
  5. Hold at 45° / Altitude +/- 100 feet and maintain constant lookout for traffic. Maintain 95 KIAS (Cessna 172R POH)
  6. Perform a 360° turn with gentle roll-out (using ailerons and rudder to maintain coordinated flight) when heading is at approximately 20° to desired initial heading.

After performing the turns here’s what I still found challenging for me – After 30°, it’s required to add power and pitch the plane up while keeping it in coordination and I tend to either gain or lose altitude. It seems that sometimes I fail to input the back-pressure at the right time which makes the airplane to descent. It is very important to glance at a vertical speed indicator at this moment and apply back-pressure  A good indication of a right pitch is a G force feeling (If you feel the G’s – you’re doing it right). Another very important step is to add power, since only applying the pitch will decrease the airspeed which could take the plane into the spin if there’s a huge loss of airspeed. Not only that you have to always glance at the instruments, you actually need to scan for traffic – so it’s important to develop a skill of looking outside 80% of the times. My instructor told me to define reference points relative to horizon (exact position of the nose with respect to the horizon as it travels around 360°). Another tip I found useful is resting an elbow on the seat, so left hand on the yoke is not freely moving – this helps to maintain the bank and pitch since that is a key to success in performing a well coordinated turn.

I’ve also practiced the maneuvre at home on a Flight Simulator in the same area with a same approach to CNU8 (As in the Flight training video). It’s interesting to realize that it’s actually a lot harder to perform it on a simulator due to lack of control pressure/g force. However, I found it very useful for visual reference, proper procedure sequence and instrument reference.

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