Get the latest news on coronavirus impacts on general aviation, including what AOPA is doing to protect GA, event cancellations, advice for pilots to protect themselves, and more. Read More
Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
Menu

Maneuvering Flight: Hazardous to Your Health?

Any type of flying close to the ground or involving steep turns and aerobatics is considered maneuvering. Find out how to perform maneuvering flight safely.

Get Started

Create Free Account

Already have an account? Log In here

Using JudgmentUsing Judgment

SAFETY SPOTLIGHT: Maneuvering Flight

Section 4 Image

Formation Flying

Since formation flying is routinely performed during aerial photography missions, it’s critical to know the pilot you’re flying alongside. Discuss the flight beforehand and ensure the other pilot is qualified in formation flying. A miscommunication or lack of skill can be deadly. It is not something to be undertaken without training—period. Just because somebody says they are a formation pilot doesn’t make it so. Are you willing to bet your aircraft and possibly your life on someone’s inflated opinion of their own skills?

Buzzing accidents account for many maneuvering accidents, and are entirely preventable.

Buzzing

Flying low over a friend’s house to show off your outstanding piloting skills is never a good idea. Momentary lapses in judgment have proven fatal for many pilots. Buzzing accidents account for many maneuvering accidents, and are entirely preventable. At altitudes below 1,000 agl, no amount of skill will allow recovery from a spin, so prevention means not engaging in such stunts in the first place.

Aerial Work

Photography, pipeline patrol, banner towing, and crop dusting activities require significant division of attention at low altitudes. Pilots performing aerial work are generally highly qualified and use excellent judgment. But if something goes wrong, there is little time to recover. Equipment malfunction and failure to follow established procedures are the most common causal factors.

Trying to out climb rising terrain usually proves futile. Avoid the situation in the first place by not flying below canyon rims.

Canyon Flying

Experienced mountain pilots are trained to fly in those unique conditions, and are also familiar with the terrain in which they fly, making sure they always have an out. Following a river at low altitude, with terrain on either side, is a dangerous situation. Rivers turn and surprises can always be found around the next bend: wires, hills, rising terrain, another aircraft—the possibilities are endless. If your airplane is not capable of making a 180-degree turn within the confines of the canyon walls, don’t go there. Trying to out climb rising terrain usually proves futile. Avoid the situation in the first place by not flying below canyon rims.

Pilot Safety Announcement: School Daze

Don’t sleep through ground school, because what you don’t know about maneuvering flight can hurt you. Watch an interesting flight lesson.