Lesson Two – Figure '8'

Learning Objectives

  • Be able to fly accurate left & right-hand figure ‘8’ patterns
  • Maintain a constant altitude whilst flying in this pattern


Perfecting the Turns

  • Your instructor will handle take-off and landings

The figure ‘8’ pattern is not included in the Bronze Wings test but is a useful training tool as it will allow you to practice left and right-hand turns until you can make precise, constant level manoeuvres in any direction.  This pattern always starts and ends over the centreline of the runway with the crossover point in front of the pilot.

  1. From a normal circuit start an upwind leg over the centreline of the runway
  2. As you begin to fly up the runway, make a 90° turn away from you
  3. Once the aircraft is flying away from you, make a 90° turn back in the opposite direction of the first turn
  4. Continue turning through another 90° until you are flying back towards the end of the runway
  5. As you come around to face the runway continue to turn back onto the runway centreline but facing in the opposite direction to that from which you started the manoeuvre
  6. Instead of flying straight on, carry on turning away from yourself until you cross point 3 once more – completing the first 360° turn
  7. Now make a 180° turn to the left to come around and point back at the other end of the runway
  8. Complete the manoeuvre by flying the final 90° turn back onto the original runway heading
  9. Fly along the runway and continue into a normal circuit pattern

At first this simple pattern will seem nearly impossible to fly smoothly as the turns will be too tight, too loose or you will gain and lose a lot of altitude.  As you spend more time practicing however you will find that you must use a combination of aileron, elevator and throttle to fly an accurate figure ‘8’.

The most important thing to remember when flying the turns is that it is not simply a case of applying a certain amount of aileron and elevator and holding it there.  You would not turn a corner in your car this way and you do not turn an aircraft this way either!  Turning accurately requires you to master balancing the controls; making constant small adjustments to fly a nice smooth line.

Keep practicing this even once you have passed your Bronze Wings as it is the basis of flying every different type of radio control aircraft and every different kind of aerobatic manoeuvre!

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