Flying Handbook Menu > Performance Maneuvers > Performance Maneuvers > Lazy Eight
The lazy eight is a maneuver designed to develop
perfect coordination of controls through a wide range of airspeeds
and altitudes so that certain accuracy points are reached with
planned attitude and airspeed. In its execution, the dive, climb,
and turn are all combined, and the combinations are varied and
applied throughout the performance range of the airplane. It
is the only standard flight training maneuver during which at
no time do the forces on the controls remain constant.
The lazy eight as a training maneuver has great
value since constantly varying forces and attitudes are required.
These forces must be constantly coordinated, due not only to
the changing combinations of banks, dives, and climbs, but also
to the constantly varying airspeed. The maneuver helps develop
subconscious feel, planning, orientation, coordination, and
speed sense. It is not possible to do a lazy eight mechanically,
because the control pressures required for perfect coordination
are never exactly the same.
This maneuver derives its name from the manner
in which the extended longitudinal axis of the airplane is made
to trace a flight pattern in the form of a figure8 lying on
its side (a lazy 8). [figure9-4]
figure9-4. Lazy eight.
A lazy eight consists of two 180° turns,
in opposite directions, while making a climb and a descent in
a symmetrical pattern during each of the turns. At no time throughout
the lazy eight is the airplane flown straight and level; instead,
it is rolled directly from one bank to the other with the wings
level only at the moment the turn is reversed at the completion
of each 180° change in heading.
As an aid to making symmetrical loops of the
8 during each turn, prominent reference points should be selected
on the horizon. The reference points selected should be 45°,
90°, and 135° from the direction in which the maneuver
Prior to performing a lazy eight, the airspace
behind and above should be clear of other air traffic. The maneuver
should be entered from straight-and-level flight at normal cruise
power and at the airspeed recommended by the manufacturer or
at the airplane’s design maneuvering speed.
The maneuver is started from level flight with
a gradual climbing turn in the direction of the 45° reference
point. The climbing turn should be planned and controlled so
that the maximum pitch-up attitude is reached at the 45°
point. The rate of rolling into the bank must be such as to
prevent the rate of turn from becoming too rapid. As the pitch
attitude is raised, the airspeed decreases, causing the rate
of turn to increase. Since the bank also is being increased,
it too causes the rate of turn to increase. Unless the maneuver
is begun with a slow rate of roll, the combination of increasing
pitch and increasing bank will cause the rate of turn to be
so rapid that the 45° reference point will be reached before
the highest pitch attitude is attained.
At the 45° point, the pitch attitude should
be at maximum and the angle of bank continuing to increase.
Also, at the 45° point, the pitch attitude should start
to decrease slowly toward the horizon and the 90° reference
point. Since the airspeed is still decreasing, right-rudder
pressure will have to be applied to counteract torque.
As the airplane’s nose is being lowered
toward the 90° reference point, the bank should continue
to increase. Due to the decreasing airspeed, a slight amount
of opposite aileron pressure may be required to prevent the
bank from becoming too steep. When the airplane completes 90°
of the turn, the bank should be at the maximum angle (approximately
30°), the airspeed should be at its minimum (5 to 10 knots
above stall speed), and the airplane pitch attitude should be
passing through level flight. It is at this time that an imaginary
line, extending from the pilot’s eye and parallel to the
longitudinal axis of the airplane, passes through the 90°
Lazy eights normally should be performed with
no more than approximately a 30° bank. Steeper banks may
be used, but control touch and technique must be developed to
a much higher degree than when the maneuver is performed with
a shallower bank.
The pilot should not hesitate at this point
but should continue to fly the airplane into a descending turn
so that the airplane’s nose describes the same size loop
below the horizon as it did above. As the pilot’s reference
line passes through the 90° point, the bank should be decreased
gradually, and the airplane’s nose allowed to continue
lowering. When the airplane has turned 135°, the nose should
be in its lowest pitch attitude. The airspeed will be increasing
during this descending turn, so it will be necessary to gradually
relax rudder and aileron pressure and to simultaneously raise
the nose and roll the wings level. As this is being accomplished,
the pilot should note the amount of turn remaining and adjust
the rate of rollout and pitch change so that the wings become
level and the original airspeed is attained in level flight
just as the 180° point is reached. Upon returning to the
starting altitude and the 180° point, a climbing turn should
be started immediately in the opposite direction toward the
selected reference points to complete the second half of the
eight in the same manner as the first half. [figure9-5]
figure9-5. Lazy eight.
Due to the decreasing airspeed, considerable
rightrudder pressure is gradually applied to counteract torque
at the top of the eight in both the right and left turns. The
pressure will be greatest at the point of lowest airspeed.
More right-rudder pressure will be needed during
the climbing turn to the right than in the turn to the left
because more torque correction is needed to prevent yaw from
decreasing the rate of turn. In the left climbing turn, the
torque will tend to contribute to the turn; consequently, less
rudder pressure is needed. It will be noted that the controls
are slightly crossed in the right climbing turn because of the
need for left aileron pressure to prevent overbanking and right
rudder to overcome torque.
The correct power setting for the lazy eight
is that which will maintain the altitude for the maximum and
minimum airspeeds used during the climbs and descents of the
eight. Obviously, if excess power were used, the airplane would
have gained altitude when the maneuver is completed; if insufficient
power were used, altitude would have been lost.
Common errors in the performance of lazy eights
• Failure to adequately clear the area.
• Using the nose, or top of engine cowl, instead of the
true longitudinal axis, resulting in unsymmetrical loops.
• Watching the airplane instead of the reference points.
• Inadequate planning, resulting in the peaks of the loops
both above and below the horizon not coming in the proper place.
• Control roughness, usually caused by attempts to counteract
• Persistent gain or loss of altitude with the completion
of each eight.
• Attempting to perform the maneuver rhythmically, resulting
in poor pattern symmetry.
• Allowing the airplane to “fall” out of the
tops of the loops rather than flying the airplane through the
• Slipping and/or skidding.
• Failure to scan for other traffic.