Lazy Eights


  • Develops perfect coordination of controls through a wide range of airspeeds and altitudes, so that certain accuracy points are reached with planned attitude and airspeed
  • It requires constantly changing control pressures necessitated by changing combinations of climbing and descending turns at varying airspeeds
  • This is a maneuver often used to develop and demonstrate the pilot's mastery of the airplane in maximum performance flight situations

All procedures here are GENERALIZED for learning.
Fly the maneuver in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH)
and/or current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

C-172S Procedure:

  1. Perform clearing turns
  2. Enter the maneuver at 105 KIAS (2400 RPM)
  3. Pick 45°, 90°, and 135° reference points
    • The farther away, the more accurate and steady it will be
  4. Slowly increase bank and pitch so that at the 45° point the airplane is passing through 15° of bank and maximum pitch up (9° nose up)
    • If bank is too fast, the aircraft will increase the rate of turn too quickly and reach 45° point before highest pitch is attained
  5. Continue to increase the bank and allow the pitch to decrease so that at the 90°, point the bank is 30° and the airplane is passing through level pitch attitude and minimum airspeed
    • Right rudder pressure will have to be applied to counteract torque
    • More right rudder is required during the climbing turn to the right than in the turn to the left
    • Record altitude gain at the 90° point
  6. After the 90° point, continue to decrease pitch and slowly decrease bank so that at the 135° point, the airplane is passing through 15° of bank and maximum pitch down (7° nose down)
  7. Continue to decrease the bank angle, allowing the pitch to increase to resume straight and level flight at entry altitude/airspeed as the airplane reaches the 180° point
  8. Repeat steps 4 through 7 in the opposite direction
  9. Complete cruise checklist

Lazy Eight
Figure 1: Airplane Flying Handbook, Lazy eight

Common Errors:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area
  • Using the nose, or top of engine cowl, instead of the true longitudinal axis, resulting in unsymmetrical loops
  • Watching the airplane instead of the reference points
  • Inadequate planning, resulting in the peaks of the loops both above and below the horizon not coming in the proper place
  • Control roughness, usually caused by attempts to counteract poor planning
  • Persistent gain or loss of altitude with the completion of each eight
  • Attempting to perform the maneuver rhythmically, resulting in poor pattern symmetry
  • Allowing the airplane to "fall" out of the tops of the loops rather than flying the airplane through the maneuver
  • Slipping and/or skidding
  • Failure to scan for other traffic

Lazy Eight
Figure 2: Airplane Flying Handbook, Lazy eight

Practical Test Standards: