- The elevator moves the nose of the airplane up or down in relation to the pilot, and perpendicular to the wings. Doing that, it both sets the pitch attitude in the turn and “pulls” the nose of the airplane around the turn.
- The throttle provides thrust which may be used for airspeed to tighten the turn.
- The rudder offsets any yaw effects developed by the other controls. The rudder does not turn the airplane.
For purposes of this discussion, turns are divided into three classes: shallow turns, medium turns, and steep turns.
Shallow turns are those in which the bank (less than approximately 20°) is so shallow that the inherent lateral stability of the airplane is acting to level the wings unless some aileron is applied to maintain the bank.Medium turns are those resulting from a degree of bank (approximately 20° to 45°) at which the airplane remains at a constant bank. Steep turns are those resulting from a degree of bank (45° or more) at which the “overbanking tendency” of an airplane overcomes stability, and the bank increases unless aileron is applied to prevent it.
Sometimes during early training in steep turns, the nose may be allowed to get excessively low resulting in a significant loss in altitude. To recover, the pilot should first reduce the angle of bank with coordinated use of the rudder and aileron, then raise the nose of the airplane to level flight with the elevator. If recovery from an excessively nose-low steep bank condition is attempted by use of the elevator only, it will cause a steepening of the bank and could result in overstressing the airplane. Normally, small corrections for pitch during steep turns are accomplished with the elevator, and the bank is held constant with the ailerons.
To establish the desired angle of bank, the pilot should use outside visual reference points, as well as the bank indicator on the attitude indicator.
Beginning students should not use large aileron and rudder applications because this produces a rapid roll rate and allows little time for corrections before the desired bank is reached. Slower (small control displacement) roll rates provide more time to make necessary pitch and bank corrections. As soon as the airplane rolls from the wings-level attitude, the nose should also start to move along the horizon, increasing its rate of travel proportionately as the bank is increased.The following variations provide excellent guides.
- If the nose starts to move before the bank starts, rudder is being applied too soon.
- If the bank starts before the nose starts turning, or the nose moves in the opposite direction, the rudder is being applied too late.
- If the nose moves up or down when entering a bank, excessive or insufficient up elevator is being applied.
During all turns, the ailerons, rudder, and elevator are used to correct minor variations in pitch and bank just as they are in straight-and-level flight.
The rollout from a turn is similar to the roll-in except the flight controls are applied in the opposite direction. Aileron and rudder are applied in the direction of the rollout or toward the high wing. As the angle of bank decreases, the elevator pressure should be relaxed as necessary to maintain altitude.
Since the airplane will continue turning as long as there is any bank, the rollout must be started before reaching the desired heading. The amount of lead required to roll out on the desired heading will depend on the degree of bank used in the turn. Normally, the lead is one-half the degrees of bank. For example, if the bank is 30°, lead the rollout by 15°. As the wings become level, the control pressures should be smoothly relaxed so that the controls are neutralized as the airplane returns to straight-andlevel flight. As the rollout is being completed, attention should be given to outside visual references, as well as the attitude and heading indicators to determine that the wings are being leveled and the turn stopped.
Instruction in level turns should begin with medium turns, so that the student has an opportunity to grasp the fundamentals of turning flight without having to deal with overbanking tendency, or the inherent stability of the airplane attempting to level the wings. The instructor should not ask the student to roll the airplane from bank to bank, but to change its attitude from level to bank, bank to level, and so on with a slight pause at the termination of each phase. This pause allows the airplane to free itself from the effects of any misuse of the controls and assures a correct start for the next turn. During these exercises, the idea of control forces, rather than movement, should be emphasized by pointing out the resistance of the controls to varying forces applied to them. The beginning student should be encouraged to use the rudder freely. Skidding in this phase indicates positive control use, and may be easily corrected later. The use of too little rudder, or rudder use in the wrong direction at this stage of training, on the other hand, indicates a lack of proper conception of coordination.
In practicing turns, the action of the airplane’s nose will show any error in coordination of the controls. Often, during the entry or recovery from a bank, the nose will describe a vertical arc above or below the horizon, and then remain in proper position after the bank is established. This is the result of lack of timing and coordination of forces on the elevator and rudder controls during the entry and recovery. It indicates that the student has a knowledge of correct turns, but that entry and recovery techniques are in error.
Because the elevator and ailerons are on one control, and pressures on both are executed simultaneously, the beginning pilot is often apt to continue pressure on one of these unintentionally when force on the other only is intended. This is particularly true in left-hand turns, because the position of the hands makes correct movements slightly awkward at first. This is sometimes responsible for the habit of climbing slightly in right-hand turns and diving slightly in left-hand turns. This results from many factors, including the unequal rudder pressures required to the right and to the left when turning, due to the torque effect.
The tendency to climb in right-hand turns and descend in left-hand turns is also prevalent in airplanes having side-by-side cockpit seating. In this case, it is due to the pilot’s being seated to one side of the longitudinal axis about which the airplane rolls. This makes the nose appear to rise during a correctly executed left turn and to descend during a correctly executed right turn. An attempt to keep the nose on the same apparent level will cause climbing in right turns and diving in left turns.
Excellent coordination and timing of all the controls in turning requires much practice. It is essential that this coordination be developed, because it is the very basis of this fundamental flight maneuver.
If the body is properly relaxed, it will act as a pendulum and may be swayed by any force acting on it. During a skid, it will be swayed away from the turn, and during a slip, toward the inside of the turn. The same effects will be noted in tendencies to slide on the seat. As the “feel” of flying develops, the properly directed student will become highly sensitive to this last tendency and will be able to detect the presence of, or even the approach of, a slip or skid long before any other indication is present.Common errors in the performance of level turns are:
- Failure to adequately clear the area before beginning the turn.
- Attempting to execute the turn solely by instrument reference.
- Attempting to sit up straight, in relation to the ground, during a turn, rather than riding with the airplane.
- Insufficient feel for the airplane as evidenced by the inability to detect slips/skids without reference to flight instruments.
- Attempting to maintain a constant bank angle by referencing the “cant” of the airplane’s nose.
- Fixating on the nose reference while excluding wingtip reference.
- “Ground shyness”—making “flat turns” (skidding) while operating at low altitudes in a conscious or subconscious effort to avoid banking close to the ground.
- Holding rudder in the turn.
- Gaining proficiency in turns in only one direction (usually the left).
- Failure to coordinate the use of throttle with other controls.
- Altitude gain/loss during the turn.