Eights Around Pylons


  • Consists of a figure eight pattern at a pivotal altitude as two points, or pylons are used as references for turns [Figure 1]
    • Involves flying downwind between the pylons and upwind outside of the pylons
  • Develops the ability to maneuver the airplane accurately, while dividing your attention between the flight path and the selected points on the ground
  • Most advanced and most difficult of the low altitude flight training maneuvers
  • Should not be introduced until the student has a complete grasp on fundamentals (Rectangular Course, S-Turns, Turns Around a Point)
  • Perfects the knowledge of the effect of angle of bank on radius of turn
  • Demonstrate how wind affects the path of the airplane over the ground
  • To gain experience in the visualization of the results of planning before the execution of the maneuver
  • Trains the student to think and plan ahead of the airplane

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. Determine wind direction
    • This is important for the entry heading and reference point
  2. Commence a clearing turn looking for traffic and ground obstructions
  3. Select 2 reference points in an area where an emergency landing can be made if necessary
    • The pylons selected should be on a line 90° to the direction of the wind and should be in an area away from communities, livestock, or groups of people, to avoid possible annoyance or hazards to others
  4. Establish and maintain 100 KIAS (approx. 2200 RPM) and 1,000' AGL
  5. Enter the maneuver on a downwind heading when passing between the pylons
  6. Abeam the first point, roll into a 30° to 40° angle
    • The distance between the pylons and the wind velocity will determine the initial angle of bank required to maintain a constant radius from the pylons during each turn
    • Steepest banks will be required just after entry and just before roll-out from each turn as ground speed is highest with the tailwind
    • The bank will shallow as you continue through the 180° point where it will be the shallowest, gradually increasing
  7. Perform the second turn
    • the roll-out from each turn must be completed on the proper heading with sufficient wind correction angle to ensure that after brief straight-and-level flight, the airplane will arrive at the point where a turn of the same radius can be made around the other pylon
    • The straight-and-level flight segments must be tangent to both circular patterns
  8. Depart the maneuver on the entry heading
  9. Complete cruise checklist

Eights Around Pylons
Figure 1: Airplane Flying Handbook, Eights Around Pylons

Common Errors:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area
  • Poor choice of pylons
  • Improper entry to the maneuver
  • Incorrect initial bank
  • Skidding or slipping turns
  • Excessive gain or loss of altitude
  • Over concentration on the pylon and failure to observe traffic
  • Not entering the pylon turns into the wind
  • Failure to roll out of turns on proper heading
  • Failure to assume a heading when flying between pylons that will compensate sufficiently for drift
  • Failure to time the bank so that the turn entry is completed with the pylon in position
  • Abrupt control usage
  • Loss of orientation

Practical Test Standards: