Maneuvers FAQ

During this part of your training you'll be practicing — and practicing, and practicing, it may seem — the maneuvers that you must master in order to pass the flight portion of the private pilot practical test. Why now? You'll want to have these skills under your belt when you begin your cross-country flights.

When I hear the word stall, I still get anxious. Where can I get some non-textbook information on stalls?

Stalls occur when the wing exceeds the maximum angle of attack and no longer produces enough lift to support the weight of the aircraft. This is completely normal maneuver to practice and nothing you should be afraid of. A lot of students are worried about stalls in the beginning, but as you practice them with your instructor you will learn that they are not as bad as they sound and can actually be fun.

My instructor and I have been spending a lot of time on ground reference maneuvers. Is there a particular reason for this?

Yes. Ground reference maneuvers will probably be your first real experience with the wind's effect on your aircraft's ground track and ground speed, so it's important to understand the concepts involved so you'll get the most from each dollar spent on your flight training. The maneuvers will give you a better picture of how wind actually affects the aircraft's performance.

Once in a while I feel a little sick when we work on maneuvers. I don't hear other students talking about it. Is this normal? What should I do if this continues?

It may be reassuring to learn you're not alone. Various studies indicate that between 30 and 40 percent of all student pilots get airsick sometime during flight training. Sooner or later, almost every pilot experiences some degree of airsickness. Many avoid using the airsick bag, but few avoid the discomfort. More important, getting airsick doesn't mean you won't make it through training. There is no single remedy that works for everyone. Find the solution that works for you and get back in the air as soon as possible. In the end, flying is the solution to airsickness. Don't let airsickness keep you down. If you are not feeling well, don't be afraid to tell your instructor and stop the lesson. Safety is always first.

My friend hit a bird while flying the other day and was telling me about bird strikes. Is this common? What should I do if I have a bird strike?

Although it is not very common, bird strikes do occur. One of the first things you should do to avoid a bird strike is to try to avoid areas in which there is a known risk. It is also important to be familiar with the patterns of migratory birds. If you are involved in a bird strike, remember to report it once you have landed safely. Be sure to fill out the FAA Form 5200-7 Bird/Wildlife Strike Report (you can use an FAA-approved online version or download a paper version. You should also fill out a NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) form.

If you see that you are flying towards a flock of birds, never try to descend and fly under them, as birds will almost always dive. Climbing and turning away from them is the best rule if you find yourself face to face with a natural aviator.

Where can I read up on maneuvers and get some tips on how to perform them?

There are many different training references that discuss the various maneuvers. From the FAA's Flight Training Handbook to AOPA Flight Training magazine, all of these are sources for you to assist in learning to master these important maneuvers.