Are you having trouble with consistency when practicing steep turns? (Ie; maintaining bank attitude and altitude?) Here’s the sequence I recommend, with #4 being the item you’re probably not doing right now:
1. Make clearing turns (of course!)
2. Note your starting heading, and identify a prominent outside landmark on that heading you can recognize later for rollout.
3. Roll PROMPTLY into the steep turn using the attitude indicator to establish your 45° bank, and “center the ball” with rudder. (IMPORTANT: Add back pressure as you roll through 30°.) Now look outside and you can see the 45° angle between the horizon and the cowl, as well as the proper pitch attitude. I recommend using outside reference for the turn, while scanning the altimeter and heading indicator periodically to back up what you’re seeing outside.
4. Okay, here’s the secret. Once established in the turn, MAKE ONLY PITCH CHANGES by pushing or pulling; DO NOT TURN THE YOKE LEFT OR RIGHT (except as necessary to correct for turbulence) NOR UNNECESSARILY MOVE THE RUDDER. This is important because every time you change bank angle, you’re changing the amount of back pressure required to maintain altitude. Turning the yoke while established in the turn creates the need for pitch adjustment, in addition to the need to correct the bank angle. You’ve now got two variables working at the same time, and you’re all too familiar with the result — oscillating all over the sky! So again, once established in the turn, ADJUST PITCH to maintain altitude, and DO NOT TURN THE YOKE. Apply this technique, and you’ll be delighted at how much easier the whole maneuver is.
5. When you see your landmark coming up on the horizon, check the heading indicator, and begin a prompt rollout 20-25°* before reaching your desired heading. IMPORTANT: Return to normal pitch attitude as you roll through 30° toward level.
Voila! Perfect steep turn! ©2009 Gregory N. Brown
- The rule of thumb for rollouts is to start leveling the wings at ½ your bank angle. Since half of a 45° bank is 22.5°, that’s how many degrees before the desired heading to begin rollout. For a 60° bank, begin your rollout 30° before reaching the desired heading.