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Feature Article: Holding Headings

A pilot (not a student) is expected to hold a heading. The PTS allows a + 10 degree or 20 degree range. It is a mistake to be accepting of this range. Successful flying is most dependent upon acquiring and holding a heading, not a range of headings. Success in holding a heading is dependent upon a pilot's ability to 'hold' the yoke in one position while attention and movement is directed elsewhere. It doesn't come easily or cheaply but it is there to be achieved. Rudder alone will do the best job.

Turning to a heading is another much sought skill. The variables in a turn far exceed those in level flight headings. The turn has the angle of the bank, anticipation of yoke pressures, and airspeed as factors. The quality of the turn is measured by the pilot's ability to determine when to begin rolling the wings level, when to stop at level, and most of all how to keep it there during the transition. For every degree of bank and airspeed we must learn what to do and when to do it.

Other opinions to the contrary, the thirty-degree bank is the safest and most controllable bank. The turn can be cleared and completed in a minimal time. The established bank is quite stable in comparison with others. Making a standard bank procedure develops a sense of turn time and direction that is easily adapted to airport patterns. This stability can be demonstrated by entering a 30-degree bank, putting in about 1/2 turn of trim to hold the nose and then holding the bank with light rudder. It will hold both bank and altitude better than in any other banked condition.

The preferred method of recovering from a bank to a selected heading is to begin recover at half the number of degrees in the bank. A thirty-degree bank's recovery will begin at 15 degrees before the desired heading. These markings are easily observed on the heading indicator. With some adjustment in the recovery rate this method will work for all banks. In the real instrument (IFR) world the standard-rate turn (3-degrees per second) recovery can be done quite quickly without regard to any rule.


Last Modified October 22, ©2017 TAGE.COM

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