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A CFI's perspective on performing Eights on Pylons

Eights on pylon—The most advanced and difficult of the ground reference maneuvers. The eights-on-pylons ground reference maneuver is intended to develop intuitive control of the airplane. This is another commercial maneuver meant for the mastery of the aircraft. Let's discuss how to master it. The goal is to have an imaginary line that extends from the pilot's eyes to the pylon. The line must always be parallel to the airplane's lateral axis. Along this line, the airplane appears to pivot as it turns around the pylon. If a taut string extended from the airplane to the pylon, the string would remain parallel to the lateral axis as the airplane turned around the pylon. How to determine pivotal altitude The first step to this perfect pylon is to find a pivotal altitude. The altitude that is appropriate for eights-on-pylons is called the "pivotal altitude" and is determined by the airplane's groundspeed. Let's say the field elevation is 645ft. Create a list of possible ground speeds (GS) based on the projected winds of the day. Photo credit Divinity PriceHow to select two suitable pylons with consideration given to emergency landing areas. Clear the area! Looking for other aircraftArea topography considerations Population density Stay away from people, livestock, or communities. Useful points crossing roads, train tracks, stand-alone objects. No moving objectives! Sufficiently prominent points, same altitude, sufficiently spaced. Relationship of groundspeed change to the performance of the maneuver. If the visual reference line appears to move ahead of the pylon, the pilot should increase altitude. If the visual reference line appears to move behind the pylon, the pilot should decrease altitude. Do not use rudder control to correct for pivotal altitude changes. Just maintain coordination. When your pylon seizes to move you know you are at a pivotal altitude. Entry procedure Procedure: Clear the area. Mixture full rich. Enter the maneuver at Va, with the airplane aligned 45 degrees to downwind.Select two small but prominent reference points 1/2 mile to 1 mile apart on a line perpendicular to the wind. Enter the maneuver at a pivotal altitude, allowing 3 to 5 seconds of straight and level flight between the pylons. When abeam the first pylon, roll into a bank that allows the line-of-sight reference to remain on the pylon. Bank should be approximately 30 to 40 degrees at the steepest point. Allow 3 to 5 seconds of straight and level flight before flying around the second pylon. The biggest thing to remember is how the wind affects you and ANTICIPATE what will happen to your pivotal altitude before it happens.
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