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Certified Flight Instructor Resources by Derek W Beck




A maneuver requiring a constant radius turn about a point on the ground.


To teach turning technique, subconscious control of the airplane, division of attention, effects of bank angle to radius of a turn, perception of altitude and correction of wind drift.


         Clear the area

         Choose forced landing area

         Configure aircraft: flaps and gear up, maneuvering speed ≤VA (C172RG: 18 Hg, 2300 RPM, approx. 100 KIAS), straight-and-level at altitude between 600-1000 AGL, trim to maintain altitude

         Select outside reference (a distinguished point to encircle)

         Enter the circle, ideally on downwind and close enough to allow for a 30 to 45 bank at steepest point (this lesson assumes downwind entry)

         Turn to the steepest bank at the start of the circle (on downwind)

         Upon rounding the turn, the bank will become progressively shallower until on upwind, at which point it will be shallowest, then start to become steeper again until again on downwind

         Maintain radius of circle by adjusting bank as necessary to compensate for wind

         Maintain ball centered

         Look for traffic throughout

Common Errors

         Failure to adequately clear the area

         Failure to establish appropriate bank on entry

         Failure to recognize wind drift

         Excessive bank and/or inadequate wind correction angle on the downwind side of the circle resulting in drift towards the reference point

         Inadequate bank angle and/or excessive wind correction angle on the upwind side of the circle resulting in drift away from the reference point

         Skidding turns when turning from downwind to crosswind

         Slipping turns when turning from upwind to crosswind

         Gaining or losing altitude

         Inadequate visual lookout for other aircraft

         Inability to direct attention outside the airplane while maintaining precise airplane control


FAA-H-8083-3A Airplane Flying Handbook p. 6-7

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