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The Aerodynamics Of A Steep Turn

This story was made in partnership with ATP Flight School. Check out the full series here. Ready to become a pilot? Get started with ATP here.

Here's how to fly it...

1) Entry

When you enter the maneuver, you can bank in either direction: 45 degrees for private and 50 for commercial. As one aileron moves up, the other moves down. The aileron that moves down creates more lift (and more drag), and that wing raises.


2) 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 add back pressure on the yoke to compensate for the decrease in vertical lift. Look out the wind screen, and find where the horizon intersects your panel. Maintain that picture, and you'll hold your turn perfectly. Using trim can help manage control pressure too.


3) 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) Over-banking Tendency

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) Yaw

Steep turns to the left require less right rudder, because the left turning tendencies and right adverse yaw counteract each other. However, steep turns to the right are the exact opposite. You'll need slightly more right rudder.


6) Rollout

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) Wake Turbulence

If you fly it perfectly, you'll fly through your wake turbulence and feel the bump as you roll wings level. If you hit your wake, you aced the maneuver!


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