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Course Reversal
2010-03-18

Course Reversal

The course reversal is a new addition to the Private Pilot Practical Test standards. After the completion of a ground reference pattern in one direction it is desirable to do the pattern in the opposite direction. A pilot must be able to maneuver equally well in either direction. The course reversal is the most efficient way to do this. I have found that it is best accomplished by using the heading indicator and some indicator for wind direction. The course reversal can be performed at any degree of bank as long as the bank is constant throughout the reversal.

Initially we will fly upwind beyond the ground pattern for about one minute. For instance, if we have flown a heading such as 030 (Headings are always said as three digits.) At one minute we will make a left/right 90- degree turn at 30 degrees of bank. 90 degrees from 030 will be either 300 to the left or 120 to the right. At the 90 degree point reverse the bank for a turn of 270 degrees in the opposite direction. Come out of this turn when on the downwind heading. This heading, originally to our rear, is 210 degrees.

210 degrees will be our final downwind heading taking us into the previous ground reference maneuver in the opposite direction. In a no wind condition we should be tracking back over our original route regardless of direction. If the maneuver is initiated directly up wind then the completed course reversal should be downwind over the reverse course. The accuracy of the reversal is directly related to how well the headings correspond to wind direction. All banks are at the same angle.

The aircraft should now be entering downwind to the left of the original point. Abeam the point the right turn is commenced. If there is a wind this will be the steepest turn. For the student the right turns are more difficult because the point must be viewed across the cockpit. If the circle is made too small the point becomes even more difficult to see. Since there are a number of other figures to fly, only two or three full circles should be flown.

To change direction of turns about the point a course reversal is required. A course reversal is a 90° constant angle bank in one direction followed by a 270° constant angle bank in the other. For best use of space begin the reversal about one minute flight time upwind of the pattern.
Exit is same line as
entry from
pattern
area
The course reversal procedure in ground reference is used in uncontrolled airport arrivals as part of the 45 degree entry. This can be part of a no radio (NORDO) arrival procedure as when landing at an airport with a tower. It is used as a (not-recommended by FAA) procedure turn maneuver and can be used to enter traditional teardrop and parallel entry holding patterns in instrument flying.

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