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7 Steps To Perform A Steep Spiral

1) Choose your entry altitude

For commercial pilot standards, the maneuver needs to be performed with at least three 360 degree turns. Pick an altitude that will allow you to accomplish the turns and still have plenty of recovery altitude.

D. Miller

2) Clearing turns

Before the maneuver, complete a set of two 90 degree or one 180 degree clearing turns to make sure there are no aircraft or birds near of you.

Anna Zverva

3) Choose a ground reference point

In the real world, steep spirals can performed if you have an engine failure. You should pick a point like the approach end of a runway (at a non-towered airport that isn't busy), or an intersection of two roads, so you can set yourself up for a downwind, base and final to the landing area.

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4) Power to idle and establish best glide speed

Keeping the power at idle and pitching for best glide well help keep a close radius to the ground reference you are spiraling over.

Aaron Landry

5) Maintain a constant radius

In order to keep a constant radius around your reference point, you need to vary the bank angle (not in excess of 60 degrees) in order to account for wind and your changing ground speed. For example, as you are transitioning from a tailwind to a headwind, your bank angle should gradually decrease, just like a turn around a point.


6) Clear the engine

Because you are at a low power setting, you should clear the engine (when you have a headwind to reduce deviating from your constant radius) in order to avoid fouled spark plugs.


7) Recover

The maneuver can either be recovered on a designated heading followed by transition back to cruise power, or you can continue to a power-off 180 approach to land if you are performing the steep spiral over an airfield.

D. Miller

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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