Chandelle Flight Maneuver

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The chandelle is an advanced training maneuver that requires a great deal of coordination and preplanning in order to be successfully completed. In addition to its training status, the chandelle also has some very practical applications in everyday flight. For instance, because the chandelle is basically a 180-degree climbing turn, you might use it to turn up and away from another aircraft, up and away from adverse weather, or, possibly, to reverse your direction in a canyon you discover you cannot outclimb. It has more far-reaching possibilities than just another maneuver to learn to please the examiner at checkride time.

To initiate your practice of a chandelle, climb to at least 1500 feet above the ground because the maneuver requires the completion to be near stall speed, and minimum stall recovery altitude is 1500 feet AGL. Line up crosswind, because all turns should be into the wind in order to remain in the practice area. As far as the aircraft is concerned, it really doesn’t matter which direction you turn. You won’t gain any more altitude one way or the other. In addition, the aircraft should be at, or below, Va (maneuvering speed) to initiate the maneuver. Depending on the aircraft, you might have to dive or slow down slightly in order to attain this recommended entry speed.

Pick a minimum of three reference points in order to complete the chandelle using outside visual references: one directly ahead, one at the 90-degree point, and one at the 180-degree point where the maneuver will be completed.

When you are at least 1500 feet above the ground, at Va, set up crosswind, and with your three reference points, you are ready to begin the maneuver. Roll into a moderate bank (about 30 degrees) and begin to smoothly increase your pitch. Maintain your 30-degree bank and steadily increase your pitch until you reach the highest point of pitch at the 90-degree point of the turn. Somewhere around the 45-degree point you will have to begin to add a bit of right rudder to correct the left-turning tendency caused by torque and P-factor. This application of torque correction during turns in both directions helps in making the turn rates constant, which is very important in the overall coordination process. 

Upon reaching the 90-degree point, maintain a constant pitch attitude and begin to roll out of the 30-degree bank proportional to your rate of turn. Continue to correct for the effects of torque as you keep your pitch attitude constant through the second 90 degrees of the maneuver. Your rollout should be timed so that as you arrive at the 180-degree point, the wings will just be coming level and your airspeed will be just above a stall.

Note: Any pitch change after reaching the 90-degree point is evidence of improper pitch control and planning.

To maintain a constant pitch attitude while you are turning from the 90-degree to the 180-degree point, bring the elevator control back slightly to compensate for the loss of airspeed and the resultant control ineffectiveness. You see, as your airspeed slows, you will need more elevator input to maintain the desired pitch attitude. And a great deal of the success of this maneuver depends on maintaining constant pitch during the 90-through-180-degree portion.

The most common error made in executing the chandelle, other than the obvious pitch and bank errors, is a tendency for many pilots to hurry the maneuver. Do not hurry this maneuver. Chandelles done as slowly and as smoothly as possible are usually the best. This results in the greatest gain of altitude, and more importantly, helps you feel the vast difference in control effectiveness as your aircraft slows from maneuvering speed down to just above a stall. Also, watch for that torque and P-factor correction mentioned previously. Proper coordination goes a long way in helping your chandelles become meaningful and precise.

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