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Bad Steep Turns Result From One Of These 7 Mistakes

Whether it was during initial training or just for knocking the rust off, everyone has flown a bad steep turn. Here are the most common errors pilots make...

1) Failure To Apply Back-Pressure

As the bank angle increases, the vertical component of lift decreases, and the horizontal component increases. Because you need to maintain altitude, you must add back pressure on the yoke to compensate for the decrease in vertical lift.


2) Over-Controlling

One common error is over-controlling. If this happens to you, your airspeed will slow and you'll climb, followed by a descent as you speed back up. Your flight profile looks like a see-saw, oscillating from low and fast to high and slow.


3) Failure To Add Power

When you add back pressure, you increase the angle-of-attack of your airfoil, as well as lift. When you increase lift, you increase induced drag. To prevent losing airspeed, you need to add some power to compensate for the increased drag.


4) Failure To Use Opposite Aileron

When you're established in a steep turn, your outer wing moves slightly faster through the air then the inner wing. This creates asymmetric lift, causing the aircraft to exhibit an over-banking tendency. You may need opposite aileron to maintain your bank angle, and prevent over-banking.


5) Failure To Use Trim

Trim is almost always a good idea. By taking pressure off the controls, it makes your job much easier. Click here to learn how and when you should use trim in a steep turn.


6) Failure To Apply Forward Pressure On Exit

When you roll out, the excess power and back pressure will cause you to climb. As you roll out, smoothly reduce power, and relax pressure on the control so you don't balloon your altitude as you roll wings level.


7) Overshooting The Rollout

During the recovery, you need to roll out on your entry heading. As you do this, reduce power and release back pressure on the controls so you don't balloon your altitude.

A rule of thumb for a rollout heading is to take half of the bank angle and apply that to the entry heading. For example, if your rollout heading is 180 degrees, and you're flying a 50 degree bank angle, you should lead your rollout by 25 degrees. Start your rollout at 205 degrees if you're banking to the left, or 155 if you're banking to the right.


What was the hardest part of learning steep turns for you? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and a First Officer on the Boeing 757/767 for a Major US Carrier. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines, and flew Embraer 145s at the beginning of his airline career. Swayne is an author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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