Steep Turns


  • Develops smoothness, coordination, orientation, division of attention and control techniques necessary for maximum performance turns
  • Bank angles of 45° to 60° are considered "steep"
  • Maximum performance turns are defined as using the fastest rate of turn and shortest radius
  • These turns will cause a much higher stalling speed
    • Limiting load factor determines the maximum bank without stalling

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. Select a prominent visual reference point ahead of the airplane
  3. Adjust the pitch and power to maintain altitude and 95 knots (approximately 2150 RPM)
    • Trim as necessary
  4. Maintain heading and note the pitch attitude required for level flight
  5. Roll into a 45° bank (private), or 50° bank (commercial) in the direction previously cleared
    • Trim nose up for two rotations
    • Remain coordinated
    • Remember parallax error
  6. Rolling through 30° of bank, increase power to maintain airspeed (approximately 2250-2300 RPM)
    • Decrease pitch to maintain airspeed
    • Pull back on the yoke will increase rate of turn but do not allow the aircraft to climb
  7. Reference the visual point selected earlier and roll out 25° before entry heading
  8. Through 30° of bank, decrease RPM (approximately 2150 RPM)
    • Decrease Pitch
    • Trim nose down for two rotations
  9. Return to wings level on entry heading, altitude, and airspeed
  10. Immediately roll into a bank in the opposite direction
    • Perform the maneuver once more
  11. Upon rolling out after the second turn, complete cruise checklist

Common Errors:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area
  • Inadequate back-elevator pressure as power is reduced, resulting in altitude loss
  • Excessive back-elevator pressure as power is reduced, resulting in a climb, followed by a rapid reduction in airspeed and "mushing"
  • Inadequate compensation for adverse yaw during turns
  • Fixation on the airspeed indicator
  • Failure to anticipate changes in lift as flaps are extended or retracted
  • Inadequate power management
  • Inability to adequately divide attention between airplane control and orientation

Practical Test Standards: