Airplane Maneuver: Eights Around Pylons

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Figure illustrates an eight around pylons. As you can see, two reference points, in this case trees, are used as the center of the circle for each half of the figure eight. This maneuver gives the pilot the chance to perform wind correction through turns to both the left and right while maintaining a constant altitude. The two points should be between one-half and one mile apart, and this distance can be adjusted depending on the speed of the plane you are flying and the speed of the wind. As with other ground reference maneuvers, you should perform eights around pylons away from homes, farms, livestock, etc., to avoid annoying those on the ground.

The line between the pylons you choose should be perpendicular to the direction of the wind. Fly the maneuver at pattern altitudes and enter between the two ground reference points on a downwind heading. In our example you will be making your initial turn to the right. Like turns about a point, you want to maintain a constant distance from the pylon you are flying around, but now you will need to transition smoothly from flying one circle, then another, each in opposite directions. Since we are entering on a downwind heading, the bank will initially be steep, then become more moderate as we turn to a crosswind heading. It will shallow further at the upwind heading portion of the maneuver, then increase in bank as we turn to crosswind, then downwind once again. Crab, bank, and roll rate will apply in this maneuver just as they did in S-turns and turns about a point, helping you maintain a constant distance from the point while you compensate for the effects of wind on your ground track.

Eights around pylons help you learn to judge your distance from an object on the ground, compensate for the effects of wind, and give you experience in dealing with the more complex task of judging wind and how it affects your ground track as you move between two points. It is not uncommon for pilots to focus so much on one aspect of the maneuver that they ignore other portions of it. Some may have a tendency to lose altitude, or to let the wind blow them from the desired course, but with a little practice the maneuver is not difficult to master.

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