Teaching and Learning Flying - Commercial Pilot, Single-Engine Airplane

Lazy Eights


    A lazy eight consists of two alternating, symmetrical, climbing and descending 180o turns in opposite directions. The name is derived from the manner in which the extended longitudinal axis of the airplane is made to trace a figure 8 lying ("lazily") on its side.


  • Selection of a suitable altitude above 1,500 feet AGL
  • Lights on; CLEAR area with two 90° turns, left and right
  • VA, mixture rich, prop in high RPM, check CHT


    Commercial Pilot PTS, VI, C:
    • Explain performance factors
    • Above 1,500 feet AGL
    • Selects reference point
    • Establishes recommended entry power and airspeed
    • Coordinated, climbing turn to 45°, maximum pitch and proper bank
    • Coordinated turn to 90°, decreasing pitch, increasing bank to maximum of approximately 30°
    • Coordinated turn to 135°, deceasing pitch to lowest and decreasing bank to proper angle
    • Coordinated turn to 180°, increasing pitch and decreasing bank to level flight at original airspeed and altitude passing through the 180° point
    • Completes second half of symmetrical loop
    • Throughout the maneuver: Constant change of pitch and roll rate


  • To develop the student's feel for varying control forces, and the ability to plan and remain oriented while maneuvering the airplane with positive, accurate control
  • To develop and demonstrate the pilot's mastery of the airplane in maximum performance flight


    • Discuss definition, safety factors, tolerances, objectives, and other elements of lazy eights
    • Use model airplane to demonstrate desired attitudes and flight path
    • Selection of suitable reference points
      • Key reference points to be identified are the entry, 45°, 90°, 135°, and 180° points
      • Prominent horizon points, roads or section lines may be used
    • Entry airspeed and power setting VA (09T,105 knots, approx. 18" MP)
    • Entry technique
      • Lights on; CLEAR area with two 90° turns, left and right
      • Select a reference line heading directly into the wind
      • Enter from SLF at VA with a climbing turn into the wind
    • Orientation, division of attention, and planning
      • Properly selected outside references helpful
      • Plan control pressures to achieve desired conditions at key points
    • Coordination of flight controls
    • Pitch and bank attitudes at key points during the maneuver
      • Entry to 45°: increasing pitch and slowly increasing bank
      • 45°: maximum nose up pitch (10°) and bank approx 15°
      • 45° to 90°: pitch decreasing, bank increasing
      • 90°: nose passing through level and maximum bank (30°)
      • 90° to 135°: pitch decreasing and bank decreasing
      • 135°: lowest pitch and bank approx 15°
      • 135° to 180°: nose coming back up, bank decreasing
      • 180°: airplane flies through SLF and begins opposite climbing turn
    • Consistent airspeed and altitude control at key points during the maneuver
      • 90° points: same altitudes (+100 feet) and airspeeds (+10 knots)
      • Entry and 180°: same altitudes and airspeeds
    • Proper correction for torque effects in right and left turns
      • Anticipate need for right rudder pressure in both turns
      • More right rudder pressure in climbing right turn
      • Controls may be crossed in right turn (left aileron to prevent overbanking)
    • Loop symmetry
    • Importance of constant rate pitch and bank attitude changes throughout the maneuver
    • Demonstrate a lazy eight
    • Coach student practice
    • Critique student performance
    • Answer student questions


  • Poor selection of reference points
  • Uncoordinated use of flight controls
  • Unsymmetrical loops resulting from poorly planned pitch and bank attitude changes
      "Keep track" of maneuver by maintaining orientation and awareness of attitude, bank and airspeed at each key point and the changes needed to arrive at the nest key point with the desired attitude, bank and airspeed
  • Inconsistent airspeed and altitude at key points
      Tendency to gain (or lose) altitude or airspeed suggests too much (too little) power
  • Loss of orientation
    • Orientation requires planning and division of attention
    • Good outside references helpful
  • Excessive deviation from reference points

Greg Gordon MD, CFII