Maneuvers & Procedures


  • Every maneuver has a purpose, and so it is equally as important to understand why and not just how
  • Maneuvers are diverse, and the applicability of many depend on your operation; however, they always follow a general pattern
  • Ground procedures proceed all flight operations, the careful observance of which set the stage for an entire flight
  • Once ready, pilots execute takeoff procedures and transition to the enroute environment
  • While airborne, pilots may elect to practice maneuvers to hone their skills
  • For those rated, Instrument procedures may apply
  • Once complete, pilots return to the terminal area to complete approach and landing procedures
  • Not every flight will be perfect, and emergencies may arise which require immediate pilot intervention

Ground Operations:

  • Ground operations begin with a throughout preflight
  • With preparation complete, the aircraft is ready to be started and Run-up to verify the operation of the powerplant and aircraft systems
  • Pilots will then taxi to the runway to conduct the takeoff and climb

Takeoff & Landing:

  • Takeoffs and landings are a straight forward concept, but their execution under various conditions can make them complex
  • Depending on wind direction, runway alignment, and any number of other variables, you may be required to execute different types of takeoffs to get safely airborne
  • Takeoffs and Climbs:

    • Takeoffs and climbs transition the pilot and aircraft from the ground to the flight environment
    • Not all departures are equal however, as the runway or terminal area may require specific considerations
    • Although conditions rarely favor the use of a standard, or Normal Takeoff and Climb, the procedures nonetheless provide the basics from which all other procedures base
    • One such example is with regards to winds, and their variability against a static runway direction
    • Despite some airports having several runways, the wind is rarely straight down the runway, which gives reason for Crosswind Takeoff and Climb procedures
    • Shorter, often remote airfields require Short Field Takeoff and Climb procedures to be able to remain within the aircraft's limitations while pushing spacial limitations
    • Unimproved airfields require Soft Field Takeoff and Climb procedures to mitigate the ground conditions
  • Approach and Landings:

Ground Reference Maneuvers:

  • Airplane Flying Handbook, Effects of Wind During Turns
    Airplane Flying Handbook, Effects of Wind During Turns
  • Ground reference maneuvers and their related objectives develop a high degree of pilot skill
  • Wind direction and velocity variations are the primary effects requiring corrections of the flight path during ground reference maneuvers [Figure 1]
  • Similar to a boat, wind directly influences the path that the airplane travels about the ground
    • Whenever the aircraft is in flight, the movement of the air directly affects the actual ground track of the airplane
  • Although few perform ground reference maneuvers regularly; the elements and principles involved in each apply to many operations
    • They aid the pilot in analyzing the effect of wind and other forces acting on the airplane and in developing a fine control touch, coordination, and the division of attention necessary for accurate and safe maneuvering of the airplane
  • Maneuvering by Reference to Ground Objects:

    • Ground track or ground reference maneuvers are performed at a relatively low altitude while applying wind drift correction as needed to follow a predetermined track or path over the ground
    • Ground reference maneuvers are generally flown at approximately 600 to 1,000' AGL depending on the speed and type of airplane to a large extent
    • Consider the following:
      • The speed with relation to the ground should not be so apparent that events happen too rapidly
      • The airplane's radius of turn and path over the ground should be easily noted
        • Changes planned and effected as circumstances require
      • Drift should be easily discernible but not tax the student too much in making corrections
      • Objects on the ground should appear in their proportion and size
      • The altitude should be low enough to render any gain or loss apparent to the student but in no case lower than 500' above the highest obstruction
    • During these maneuvers, both the instructor and the student should be alert for available forced-landing fields
    • The area chosen should be away from communities, livestock, and groups of people to prevent possible annoyance or hazards
  • The low maneuvering altitudes limit the time available to search for a suitable field for landing in the event the need arises
  • Ground Reference Maneuvers:
  • Airplane Flying Handbook, Effects of Wind During Turns

Airborne Maneuvers:

Commercial Certificate Maneuvers:

Leaning Procedures:

  • Ground (high elevation):
    • Ensure the mixture control is full forward (full rich)
    • Lean the mixture by slowly moving the Mixture control back to the stop, but only enough to obtain smooth operation
  • Climb:
    • Leave the mixture control in the full forward (full rich) position
    • As you climb (above 3000 ft Density Altitude in many trainers), leaning will improve engine performance
  • Cruise:
    • Slowly move the mixture control back until a slight increase in airspeed is noted, and engine operation becomes rough
    • If the engine operation is rough, slowly moving the mixture control forward to obtain smooth engine operation
    • If an Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) gauge is available, lean to peak (best power)
      • Note best power does not account for climbs/descents
      • Rich of peak provides best economy
  • Ground Reference Maneuvers:
    • Ensure full forward (full rich) position and the electric fuel pump (if equipped) is off
  • Other Maneuvers:
    • Leave the mixture control in the leaned position, and the electric fuel pump (if equipped) is off
  • Descent:
    • Slowly move the mixture control forward to enrichen the mixture during descent
  • Landing:
    • Slowly move the mixture control to the full forward (full rich) position
    • Turn the electric fuel pump on when descending through 1000 feet AGL


Instrument Rating Maneuvers & Procedures:


  • When an emergency occurs, the pilot must remember to aviate, navigate, and communicate in that order
    • Maintain aircraft control
    • Analyze the situation and take corrective action
    • Land as soon as possible/practicable
  • The Pilot-in-Command during an emergency is the final authority
    • This authority applies to extenuating circumstances
    • Procedures, as written, are that way for a reason, and pilots should not blindly deviate without considering the entirety of the situation
  • Steep Spirals
  • Emergency Approach and Landing
  • Spins
  • Ditching


  • Stalls in aviation refer to the separation of airflow over the wings after the wing reaches the Critical Angle of Attack (AoA)
    • The critical AoA is the AOA when reached, results in a stall
  • Stalls can occur at any airspeed, at any flight attitude, or at any weight, as they are completely dependent on the AoA
  • Stall Recognition:

    • Several methods are available to recognize stalls:
      • Vision: noting the attitude of the airplane, however, not conducive to recognizing approaching stalls
      • Hearing: RPM loss, more airflow noise around the cabin
      • Kinesthesia: sensing in directions or speed of motion, which is the most important indicator you have
      • Feel: control pressures and pressures exerted
      • Aircraft Warnings: horns, rudder shakers, stick shakers
  • Stall Recovery:

    • Reduce AoA!
      • Reducing AoA is the only way to start the recovery process and may be done by lowering the nose or increasing power, however in most aircraft, lowering the nose is the only logical step you have
    • Increase airspeed (lift)
    • Maintain coordinated use of controls
  • Types of Stalls:


  • Formation flights are efficient and expeditious ways of moving multiple aircraft in an orderly fashion, typically used by the military
  • Formation flight can be the most challenging and rewarding experience in aviation, but it is not without its dangers

Control Transfer Procedures:

  • When transferring controls from one pilot to another, it is critical to be assertive and conscious of good Crew Resource Management practices
  • Transfer controls using a "positive three-way" method:
    • Pilot flying states, "You have the controls"
      • The pilot flying continues to positively control the aircraft
    • Pilot not flying states, "I have the controls"
      • The pilot not flying puts their hands on the controls but is not yet the pilot flying
    • The original pilot flying states, "You have the controls"
      • At this point, the original pilot flying lets go of the controls while the new pilot flying assumes pilot responsibilities
  • There may be other variations of this to include shaking the stick, but the intent is there is always a pilot flying, and there can be no confusion to that fact


  • Maneuvers are not flown for the sake of
    • They are means to practice procedures applicable to common aircraft operations
    • Less important than moving an aircraft to complete a maneuver, is the understanding the desired performance and outcome
  • Remember: Pitch-Power-Configuration-Trim
  • Flight maneuvers follow a set of procedures to demonstrate some aspect of the aircraft's performance
  • Learn more about takeoff and landing performance in the aerodynamics and performance section
  • Consistently sit in such a way that your sight picture remains constant, that is your view outside of the aircraft, by which you reference the aircraft to the horizon, should be consistent
  • Consider practicing maneuvers on a flight simulator to introduce yourself to maneuvers or knock-off rust
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