Lesson Plans from a CFI for Steep Turns

I am on a new yet exhausting journey of writing lesson plans for my CFI binder. It is very exciting to think that by the end of this year I will be able to teach other people how to fly an airplane. I have learned so much over the past 2 and a half years of flying and soon I will take that knowledge and share it with others. Someone told me once that being a CFI means that you are simply a certified learner. In the pursuit of creating lesson plans, I can say I have expanded my understanding exponentially. I mean think about it, for you to teach someone and answer the unfiltered questions and different levels of learning you have to continually learn the material for yourself to provide a deep understanding to your students.

One of my very first lesson plans is over steep turns and what better way to start sharing my newly acquired knowledge than to share it with you all? Feel free at any point to leave advice and comments to improve my lesson plan. This is not the full version as it turned out to be roughly 10 pages of material. This post will be one of a two-part series to provide that information. This first post will cover coordinated turns, uncoordinated turns, and over banking tendencies. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Steep Turns

Purpose of Steep Turn

The purpose of this maneuver is to develop the pilot’s smoothness, coordination, orientation, control technique, and division of attention by executing maximum performance turns.

Set-up of Maneuver


To ensure that the immediate practice area is free of conflicting air traffic and obstacles and to select an emergency landing site.


Single engine PA28-161

  1. Area Clear
  2. Fuel Selector Proper Tank
  3. Mixture Full Rich
  4. Fuel Pump On
  5. Carb Heat Off
  6. Power Set for Va, (Specific to aircraft determined Va for specific weight)

Memory Aid: GUMP

  • Gas (Fuel selector & fuel pump)
  • Under carriage (Gear up/down)
  • Mixture (Full rich/ lean)
  • Power (Va)

PA28-161 Piper Warrior III SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)

  1. Enter the maneuver on a cardinal heading at least 1,500 AGL  at Va.
  2. Execute a coordinated turn, using a 45-degree bank (50-degree bank for advanced students).
  3. As the bank angle approaches 30 degrees, simultaneously increase back elevator pressure to maintain level flight and add approximately 100 to 200 RPM as necessary to maintain entry airspeed, and apply trim to support the desired flight attitude and airspeed.
  4. Execute a steep turn in the opposite direction (advanced students must immediately execute a steep turn in the opposite direction).
  5. Begin rollout approximately one-half the bank angle in degrees before the entry heading, e.g. in a 45-degree bank, begin rollout while passing through a heading approximately 20-degrees before entry heading.
  6. Roll out of the turn at entry heading and altitude, while simultaneously relaxing back elevator pressure and reducing power to a normal cruise setting.
  7. Fuel pump off if no more maneuvers are to be practiced on that flight.

Forces in Turns
Coordinated and Uncoordinated Flight

Coordinated Flight

Centrifugal force is equal to the horizontal component of lift.

Basics of a Turn

In a turn, the lift component is broken into vertical and horizontal components.

The horizontal component of lift is a force involved with turning the aircraft to either side.

Centrifugal force is the “equal and opposite reaction” of the aircraft to the change in direction during a turn and acts equal and opposite to the horizontal component of lift.

 The vertical component of lift acts opposite to weight (gravity acting downward). “Since the lift during the bank is divided into vertical and horizontal components, the amount of lift opposing gravity and supporting the aircraft’s weight is reduced.” (PHAK Ch. 5) Consequently, more lift needs to be generated by increasing the coefficient of lift requiring back pressure on the elevator to maintain a higher A.O.A.

It is important to note that the AOA must be progressively increased to produce sufficient vertical lift to support the aircraft’s weight due to the vertical component of lift decreasing as the bank angle increases. The pilot should keep in mind that when making constant altitude turns, the vertical component of lift must be equal to the weight to maintain altitude.

Also during the turn, since the drag of the airfoil is directly proportional to its AOA, the airplane will lose airspeed proportional to the angle of bank executed. To maintain the required 45 degree (50 degrees for advanced), Va, and altitude rolling past 30 degrees added power is required to compensate added drag due to increased AOA.

 Uncoordinated Flight


Slipping Turns

The horizontal lift component is greater than the centrifugal force

  • Aircraft yaws to the outside of turn
  • Bank angle too much for the rate of turn
  • The outside wing has a higher A.O.A, stalls first, drops and levels the wings

Recovery: decrease the bank angle, increasing the Rate of Turn, or a combination of the two changes.

Note* Slips may result in inaccurate airspeed due to the pitot tube/ mass not being Skidding Turnsaligned with the relative wind.



An excess of centrifugal force over the horizontal lift component

  • Turning too fast for bank angle
  • Fuselage blankets lower wing, lower wing stalls, spin is created

Recovery: reduce the rate of turn, increase bank angle or a combination of the two changes.

Over banking tendencies

  • During a steep turn maneuver, the outer wing of the aircraft moves slightly faster through the air than the inner wing. This lack of symmetrical lift between both wings, causing the aircraft to steepen its bank angle in the initial direction. To counteract this over banking tendency, apply opposite aileron as necessary to maintain your bank angle.
  • Negative static stability about the longitudinal axis.

Okay, that’s just the first portion of this lesson plan. Stay tuned for my next post that will go into Va (maneuvering speed), weight impact, load factor, and accelerated stalls, and rate and radius of turns. Your critics make me a better learner therefore a better teacher so feel free to leave any thoughts!