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Ideas for doing 8s on Pylons PLEASE?

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New member
May 31, 2002
I read about every Comm. book out there and the CFI's at the airport all seem to have a story, but nothing unique that can help me with selecting reference points, adjusting for wind, tricks of the trade.

If any of you can tell me what worked for you, I'd really be grateful.

Thank you

I'm not sure what you're asking for. If the books you've read don't cover it well enough, what would? Eights on pylons is a very simple maneuvre. Pick your wingtip reference, and if the target slips ahead of that reference, dive to get it. If it slips behind the reference, pull up to slow down and let it "catch up."

That's about it. Do this in combination with the way you fly eights around pylons, varying bank according to the wind, and your're there.
Eights on Pylons (Turns ON a point):

I'm going to work backwards in your list, because I think a problem exists that you haven't met.

"Adjusting for winds" is completely unnecessary because you have a "self-correcting" mechanism in the concept of "pivotal altitude". William Kershner's Commercial book does a wonderful job of explaining "pivotal altitude" but let me give the condensed version.

You are doing "Eights ON" not around. The "on" portion is that you take a point on the wing and place it "on" the pylon. By default this is like you took a piece of string and ran it from the pylon to the wing. (You are "flying" the hypotenuse of right triangle!) If you move across the ground either faster or slower, you are changing the ground distance away from the pylon, therefore you must adjust the altitude to keep the wing on the pylon and the imaginary string from either going slack or breaking. For a Cessna-172 running about 21 inches of manifold or about 90-95 knots, the pivotal altitude will be about 900ft agl. As the groundspeed moves up and down from the average, you must change the altitude. (Remember, this is a ground reference manuever!)

What the "rote" method of teaching says is: if the pylon starts moving ahead of the wing, dive to catch it - if the pylon starts moving behind the wing, climb to let it catch you. Both manuevers are self-correcting. i.e. (if the pylon is moving behind the spot on the wing - you are going too fast for the altitude you are at - you either need to slow down or increase altitude - climbing without a power adjustment will increase the altitude AND slows you down - so the pylon will quickly "catch up".

"Pivotal" is the important part of both Eights On and Turns On.

Also - I hope you see that pivotal being dependent on "groundspeed" already corrects for wind. The only real trouble is a very strong wind (over 20 knots) that will cause your circles to "cave-in" on the pylon. If you are doing ground ref manuevers in over 20 kt winds, I congratulate your courage!

Now for picking reference points or pylons. I'm an old IFR and IFRR pilot which stands for "I follow Roads" and I follow Railroads. I love straight roads and intersections for ground reference manuevers. Rivers, Farm boundaries, underground pipeline cuts - do not pick the silo in the middle of an undefined field like so many other pilots try to do! Stay away frm power tranmission lines - even though they are straight - they could kill you if you have an engine out!

Follow the PTS. Start downwind. That is, pick a road that is perpendicular to the wind. The distance is approximately 1-1.25 miles from the pylon at 900ft - this is roughly the same as the distance of your downwind leg from the centerline of the runway.

1.) Find a nice road perpendicular to the wind.
2.) Fly out and then downwind, putting an intersection off your left wing.
3.) Select the point on your wing (use a rivet line) that you are going to put "on" the pylon.
4.) Start your first turn "on" a point using this great reference pylon that you picked.
5.) As you come out of the first turn (and you are above the road) roll the airplane to the right. The rivet line on the right wing will now point to something on the road - doesn't matter what - a tree, a house, a weird color, another intersection. Just pick the best thing you can see that is about the same distance as what you saw on the left.
6.) Keep the wing on this new point until completeing the right hand turn on a point.

I know this sounds simplistic. But this is the best way to work on knowing what pylon distances look like. After a while, you'll be able to go out to a road or railroad. Pick a real nice "pylon" with suitable mini-pylons about two miles away. Then do the manuever. Believe me - any DE will be impressed by this setup.

Good luck!
Where I performed this maneuver, and also taught it, we had nothing BUT silos. We identified them by number (as they were often clustered together) and color. The brand new Harvestore type are larger and navy blue, and the older ones have that little silver painted "dome" on top. If you can notice the differences (so they don't all look alike) you will be okay.

If you don't have Kershner's book, you should get it for when you begin instructing.

Enter downwind at the pivotal altitude, as mentioned. Don't overthink this one. Pylon moves forward, stick moves forward. Pylon moves backward, stick moves backward. Your climbs and descents are controlling your groundspeed, which decreases as you climb, and increases as you descend. During the few seconds, that's less than ten seconds, it takes to transition from one pylon to the other, feel free to crab into the wind so you begin at a reasonable distance from the pylon, instead of being blown downwind so that you're almost on top of the thing.

It is easier to get someone to do this maneuver well than a good lazy eight, where just about everybody needs to slow down (mentally) and make it a Laaaaazyyyyy eight. They're FUN!

Enjoy this time in your flying as much as you can. It gets busier from here, and some folks have a hard time getting too caught up in the day to day IT'S A JOB mindset. Enjoy flying. Think of it as a gift to you when you do it.
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Everybody else has covered it pretty well. Just wanted to add that road intersections work pretty well (at least here around atlanta). I always had a problem of loosing the other point when I was turning around the first. With the intersections, I could see the road going to the second point coming up so I could get ready to transition. Hope to help. Good luck and as timebuilder said, enjoy it!

--- Snoopy

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