Ground track or ground reference maneuvers are performed at a relatively low altitude while applying wind drift correction as needed to follow a predetermined track or path over the ground. They are designed to develop the ability to control the airplane, and to recognize and correct for the effect of wind while dividing attention among other matters. This requires planning ahead of the airplane, maintaining orientation in relation to ground objects, flying appropriate headings to follow a desired ground track, and being cognizant of other air traffic in the immediate vicinity.
Ground reference maneuvers should be flown at an altitude of approximately 600 to 1,000 feet AGL. The actual altitude will depend on the speed and type of airplane to a large extent, and the following factors should be considered.
The speed with relation to the ground should not be so apparent that events happen too rapidly.
The radius of the turn and the path of the airplane over the ground should be easily noted and
changes planned and effected as circumstances require.
Drift should be easily discernable, but not tax the student too much in making corrections.
Objects on the ground should appear in their proportion and size.
The altitude should be low enough to render any gain or loss apparent to the student, but in no case lower than 500 feet above the highest obstruction.
During these maneuvers, both the instructor and the student should be alert for available forced-landing fields. The area chosen should be away from communities, livestock, or groups of people to prevent possible annoyance or hazards to others. Due to the altitudes at which these maneuvers are performed, there is little time available to search for a suitable field for landing in the event the need arises.