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2 Answers

Mastering slow flight and steep turns?

Asked by: 6811 views Private Pilot, Student Pilot

So I did my phase check this weekend with another senior CFI at my flight school. He said that I need a lot more work on basics and I felt discouraged after almost 30 hours. He said my skills suck on:


steep turns- hold altitude and speed

slow flight

pattern work


With slow flight the controls get mushy so it is a bit tricky for me.

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2 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Feb 11, 2013

    It sounds like you are looking at the instruments way too often. It’s counter intuitive, I know. You are held to standards that are measured on the instruments but I am telling you to look outside greater than 90% of the time.

    Go back with your primary instructor and walk through the four phases of flight, straight and level, climbs, descents and turns. This time, have the instructor emphasize what to look for on the outside of the airplane instead of what the instruments are supposed to read on the inside. For example, to go straight on a heading, you need to pick a point out in the distance and adjust your heading to ensure that point doesn’t move on the windscreen. To stay at your altitude, you need to adjust your pitch so that there is a constant distance between the cowling and the horizon. It’s easier to pick up on these cues outside then react to what is happening on the inside.

    When that is mastered, verify that you are going where you want to go by glancing at the instruments. Yup, still on my heading and altitude unchanged. (2 seconds lapse)… look outside.

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  2. perlgerl on Feb 16, 2013

    If you’re having problems with both slow flight and steep turns, it may be that you’re struggling to find the engine power setting to balance the airplane’s configuration at a constant altitude. I struggled with steep turns for many, many hours; lots more than 30 hours. One day, I just got it!

    Like Wes said, the key is to looking outside, not inside. Practice on days when there is a well defined horizon. When your instructor performs a 45 degree angle of bank steep turn, note where the horizon bisects the cowling or the dash. Remember these reference points. (For me, in a right 45 degree bank, the horizon is on the right tip of the dash eyebrow, in a left bank, the horizon is on the left cowling rivets.

    I found I had to initiate it in three separate steps;

    1. Check that I am sitting erect in the seat and roll the airplane until it is visually banked correctly.

    2. The nose will drop. Pull back on the yoke to restore the reference point, correcting the pitch visually.

    3. Add a little bit of power to stop the descent and maintain altitude.

    Only then, should you glance at ALTIMETER, and correct pitch or power if required to maintain a constant altitude (looking at vertical speed will cause you to over-correct). Look outside, check your posture and enjoy the ride. Try to maintain everything constant while you complete the turn.

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