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

Lazy Eights Procedure:

All procedures are GENERALIZED.
Always fly in accordance with Pilot Operating Handbooks (POHs)
and/or current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

  1. Perform clearing turns
  2. Adjust the pitch and power to maintain altitude and set cruise power
    • Trim as necessary
  3. Pick 45°, 90°, and 135° reference points on or out to the horizon
    • The farther away, the more accurate and steady they will be
  4. From a straight and level flight, initiate a climbing turn (simultaneously increase bank and pitch slowly) in the direction of the 45° reference point
    • Slowly increase bank and pitch so that at the 45° point the airplane is passing through 15° of bank and maximum pitch up (around 10°)
    • 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. At the 45° reference point the maximum pitch up (highest) attitude should be achieved with a 15° bank angle continuing to increase to 30°
  6. From the 45° reference point, while allowing the bank angle to continue increasing, allow the pitch to decrease so that at the 90° reference point the maximum bank angle (30°) is achieved and the pitch attitude is passing through level flight at minimum airspeed (5-10 knots above VS
    • 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
  7. From the 90° reference point, allow the pitch attitude to continue decreasing and initiate a slow decrease in the bank angle, continuing a descending turn in the direction of the 135° reference 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)
  8. At the 135° reference point, the maximum pitch down (lowest) attitude should be achieved with a 15° bank angle continuing to decrease to 0°
  9. From the 135° reference point, continue decreasing the bank angle while allowing the pitch to increase so that the airplane returns to the entry airspeed and altitude by the 180° reference point
    • The airspeed should not exceed the entry airspeed during the turn from the 90° reference point to the 180° reference point
  10. From the 180° point, immediately commence a climbing turn in the opposite direction, repeating the steps above
  11. Upon completion of the maneuver, resume normal cruise
    • Re-trim as necessary
  12. Complete cruise flow/checklist
Lazy Eight
Airplane Flying Handbook, Lazy eight
Lazy Eight
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

Airman Certification Standards:


  • Consider practicing maneuvers on a flight simulator to introduce yourself to maneuvers or knock off rust