Steep Turns

In which we ditch the circuit for the training area, I discover that steep turns are fun and experience 2Gs for the first time.


Despite the forecast of thunderstorms/rain, today was slightly cloudly and fairly windy but still flyable.

Swamp cartoons were used with permission. See more at

Swamp cartoons were used with permission. See more at

It was fairly windy and turbulent today so we ditched the circuit and headed out to the training area to do some steep turns.

I preflighted 5231, we jumped in and I started it up. Making a slightly different taxi call to usual, I taxiied us to 36.

Lilydale Traffic
Jabiru 5231
Taxiing for training area, runway 36

I did the takeoff and we climbed to about 3000ft. Here, J took over to demonstrate a steep turn.

Steep level turns are turns of 30 degrees angle of bank or over. For comparison, a medium level turn is about 30 degrees angle of bank. The turns we did today were at 45 degrees angle of bank, but it is possible to also do turns at 60 degrees.

The first turn J demonstrated was a turn to the left. This is generally easier for the student because they are on the low side of the aircraft and can more easily see in the direction of the turn. Entering a steep turn is the same as entering a medium level turn –

  • Bank
  • Balance
  • Backpressure

The plane is banked to 45 degrees, adding backpressure to ensure that the nose doesn’t drop. When going over 30 degrees angle of bank it is advisable to increase the power slightly.

The attitude for a left steep turn for me is the horizon about 1/3 of the way up the side of the nose.

J also demonstrated what would happen to the turn if the wrong amount of backpressure was applied. If the nose was too high, then the plane would climb – this is easily fixed by reducing the amount of backpressure. If the nose is held too low, then the plane starts to descend and will eventually end up in a spiral dive – this isn’t quite so simple to fix, if you simply apply more backpressure, then it will just tighten the turn. Instead you have to lessen the bank angle somewhat and apply a bit of power (I think). Then roll back into the turn, keeping the correct amount of backpressure this time.

After a couple of demonstrations, I took over to try a few turns. The main problem I had was calculating the angle of bank, apparantly I did a few very nice 30 degree turns (which wasn’t really what we were intending to do!). J said that some students are worried that if they bank too far they’ll ‘fall out of the plane’. This wasn’t my problem though, my problem was that I’m terrible at working out our bank angle! I think I need to start bringing a protractor to stick on the dash so I can calculate angles!

Apparantly it’s possible to use the artificial horizon to calculate the bank angle (one of the lines on it represents 45 degrees). However the screen is fairly small, and the line even smaller, so it’s a bit hard to work out. It’s better to calculate the angle of bank with reference to the horizon and use the AH to check if necessary.

J took over at this point to demonstrate some steep turns to the right. To get us away from the mountains (so we don’t piss off the neighbours), he did a 60 degree steep turn which causes 2g of g-force. I found this rather uncomfortable but it was a bit better when I clenched the muscles in my legs. I know I wasn’t doing this the recommended way to deal with g-force (for one thing, you’re meant to do it before entering into the maneuver), but it took my mind off the feeling of the g-force somewhat at least. I really want to try aerobatics one day so I’m desperately hoping that I can learn to deal with the g-forces.

Then I did some steep turns to the right. These were a bit more difficult as I was on the high side of the plane, so it was harder to look out in the direction of the turn. The attitude for a steep turn to the right for me is the horizon cutting through the corner of the windscreen. A few times here I had the nose a bit high and was still having problems trying to get the correct amoung of bank angle.

I think there must be a fair number of students who dislike or have problems with steep turns. A few times today J asked me if I was feeling unwell at all (I hadn’t even though of it until he mentioned it!) and I was just like “nah, this is FUN” so I’m wondering if lots of students do end up feeling sick from doing steep turns…

After a few more turns in both directions, it was time to head back. We did a slow descent down to circuit height and joined on crosswind. The approach (a flapless approach) was pretty interesting with the turbulence caused by the wind and I think I still need to make corrective inputs quicker than I am. Due to the headwind the approach speed was a bit faster than usual (about 80kts). I think (I’m not certain though) that I mostly managed to get it on the ground by myself (I don’t think it was unassisted at least but it definitely wasn’t completely assisted or anything either).

Next mission we’re going back into the circuit and going to have a crack at glide approaches. It was good to get out of the circuit today, hopefully it’ll help me next mission, have a nice fresh mindset for circuits 🙂

Trying steep turns today has definitely increased my desire to try aerobatics. The one thing I’m worried about is my ability to handle the g-forces but I guess they’d teach you ways of dealing with it. Maybe I’ll treat myself to an aeros fight in January sometime, who knows!


3 Responses to Steep Turns

  1. Flyingninja says:

    I love the steep turns. Probably too much as the CFI keeps pulling me back. The Jabiru has a stick control, doesn’t it? I sometimes wonder which is better – stick or yoke? I fly the Whitney Boomerang, which has the yoke.

  2. Darky says:

    I’ve never tried a yoke, I like the stick though, especially for ab initio as the yoke seems pretty similar to a steering wheel which could get a little confusing at times for a pilot who’s more used to driving than flying 😛

    I agree though, steep turns are awesome!

  3. Flyingninja says:

    I did 6 T&Gs this afternoon and scored a 9/10 landing on one of them. Very stoked! I felt two weeks ago that my mental space was clear to about 3-4 secs on short final and then the workload started piling on. Today, I reckon it’s down to 2 secs, so I had a lot more time to prep for the take-off roll while I was actually on short final. Got another session tomorrow to prove today was no fluke. Keep your blog going… learning heaps from your notes, too.

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