February, 7, 2021 by

S-turns are “a ground reference maneuver in which the airplane’s ground track resembles two opposite but equal half-circles on each side of a selected ground-based straight line reference” [Airplane Flying Handbook]. It helps with developing one’s ability to compensate for wind while turning or flying traffic patterns. Take a look at an s-turns graphic here!

  • Step 1: Choose a line perpendicular to winds aloft (e.g. roads, large fields, etc.)
  • Step 2: Descend to around 1000ft AGL and perform a downwind entry
  • Step 3: Begin your first 180-degree turn (compensate for wind and speed)
  • Step 4: Decrease bank and rollout (slowest point along the s-turn)
  • Step 5: Execute a reverse turn (increase bank to adjust for speed)
  • Step 6: Rollout (completion of one s-turn)

References: Boldmethod, CFI Notebook

Luca Caviness is an editor for the IFATC Education Group and an IFATC Supervisor. He is also a real-world student pilot.