Turns Around a Point
The idea behind a “turns around a point” is to develop a skill of being able to control the airplane in reference to a point on the ground, while accounting for the wind aloft trying to blow you off course. This is similar to operating in the traffic pattern, as you are really just flying in reference to a point on the ground (the runway) and the wind is blowing you slightly off course from some direction. Turns Around a Point are a valuable and necessary skill to master to become a successful pilot.
Purpose of the maneuver:
- Maintaining a specific relationship between the airplane and the ground.
- Learn to divide attention between the flight path, the ground reference point, flight control inputs, instrument scanning, and situational awareness outside of the airplane.
- Improve competency in quickly changing angle of bank.
- Establish and adjust bank angle for wind correction to maintain the desired distance from a point.
- Develop the ability to compensate for drift in quickly changing orientations.
- Develop further awareness that the radius of a turn is correlated to the bank angle.
What the maneuver entails:
- Inscribe a perfectly round circle on the ground as you fly your circle around the point, as if there was a pen attached to the bottom of the airplane. Adjust the bank angle during turns to correct for groundspeed changes in to maintain a constant radius turn; use steeper bank angles for higher ground speeds, shallow bank angles for slower ground speeds (as you fly into and out of the wind around your point).
- Choose an appropriate altitude to fly the maneuver at (which would be somewhere between 600′-1,000′ agl)
- Maintain airspeed within +/- 10kts and altitude within +/-100′
- Choose a good point (a well defined and small point, not something large like a lake or large group of trees)
- Start the maneuver on the downwind (with the wind on your tail, in other words, with a high ground speed)
- Keep an eye out for traffic and don’t forget to scan inside the cockpit at your instruments from time to time
- Fixating on the point. Your point isn’t going anywhere! Glance at your point as necessary to ensure you aren’t drifting in or away, but be sure not to fixate on it.
- Cross-controlling. It’s easy to lose coordination between your feet and hands. Maintain coordination and make sure you aren’t slipping or skidding.
- Altitude: Remember to glance in at the altimeter.
- Drift: Adjust bank as necessary to avoid driving in towards your point.