Turns Around A Point


  • Extension on S-Turns across a road where the airplane is flown in two or more complete circles of uniform radii or distance from a prominent ground reference point [Figure 1]
    • Further teaches the radius of a turn is a distance which is affected by the degree of bank used when turning with relation to a definite object
    • Perfects the ability to subconsciously control the airplane, while dividing attention between flight path and ground references in a turn
    • Develops a keen perception of altitude

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. Perform clearing turns looking for traffic and ground obstructions
  3. Select a reference point in an area where an emergency landing can be made if necessary
    • Select a point easily distinguished and small enough to present precise reference
    • Isolated trees or crossroads work best
  4. Establish and maintain 100 KIAS (approx. 2200 RPM) and 1,000' AGL
  5. Enter on a downwind to one side of the selected point at a distance equal to the desired radius of the turn
  6. Directly downwind and abeam the reference point, roll into the steepest bank to initiate maintaining a constant radius
    • This will be your highest ground speed
  7. Turn not to exceed 45°
  8. As the turn continues, begin to shallow the bank, as necessary, to continue maintaining a constant radius
    • Ground speed will decrease
  9. Directly upwind the bank should be at its shallowest
    • Ground speed will be slowest
  10. As the turn continues, begin to steepen the bank, as necessary, to continue maintaining a constant radius
    • Ground speed will begin to increase
  11. Continue the maneuver for another set of turns or depart on entry heading, as directed
  12. Complete cruise checklist

Airplane Flying Handbook, Figure 6-6. Turns around a point
Figure 1: Airplane Flying Handbook, Turns around a point


  • Use a maximum bank of 45° while maintaining altitude
  • As experience and understanding of the effects of wind drift, bank angle, and wind correction angle improve, you may enter the maneuver from any point
  • Take into account ground speed and wind velocity to determine the angle of bank required initially to maintain the proper ground track

Common Errors:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area
  • Failure to establish appropriate bank on entry
  • Failure to recognize wind drift
  • Excessive bank and/or inadequate wind correction angle on the downwind side of the circle, resulting in drift toward the reference point
  • Inadequate bank angle and/or excessive wind correction angle on the upwind side of the circle, resulting in drift away from the reference point
  • Skidding turns when turning from downwind to crosswind
  • Slipping turns when turning from upwind to crosswind
  • Gaining or losing altitude
  • Inadequate visual lookout for other aircraft
  • Inability to direct attention outside the airplane while maintaining precise airplane control

Practical Test Standards:

  • Practical Test Standards
    • Airplane Single Engine Land/Sea: Maintain ± 100 feet and ± 10 knots throughout the maneuver