Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Lazy Eights Lesson by wifiCFI


To determine that the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge, risk management, and skills associated with lazy eights.


The applicant demonstrates understanding of: 

Purpose of lazy eights. 

Aerodynamics associated with lazy eights, to include coordinated and uncoordinated flight. 

Performance and airspeed limitations. 

Phases of the lazy eight maneuver from entry to recovery.

Risk Management

The applicant demonstrates the ability to identify, assess and mitigate risks, encompassing: 

Failure to divide attention between airplane control and orientation. 

Collision hazards, to include aircraft, terrain, obstacles, and wires. 

Low altitude maneuvering/stall/spin. 

Distractions, loss of situational awareness, and/or improper task management. 

Failure to maintain coordinated flight. 

Failure to manage energy. 

Accelerated stalls.

Lazy Eights (AFH C9)

The lazy eight is a maneuver that is designed to develop the proper coordination of the flight controls across a wide range of airspeeds and attitudes. 

It is the only standard flight training maneuver that, at no time, flight control pressures are constant.

To aid in the performance of the lazy eight’s symmetrical climbing/descending turns, prominent reference points must be selected on the natural horizon. 

The reference points selected should be at 45°, 90°, and 135° from the direction in which the maneuver is started for each 180° turn.

Flying the Maneuver 

Prior to starting the lazy eight, the flaps and landing gear (if retractable) should be in the UP position. 

The lazy eight is initiated by properly clearing the airspace for air traffic and hazards. 

First 45 Degrees of Turn:

From level flight a gradual climbing turn is begun 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 with an approximate bank angle of 15°.

45-90 Degrees

Beyond the 45° reference point, the pitch-up attitude should begin to decrease slowly toward the horizon until the 90° reference point is reached where the pitch attitude should be momentarily level. With an approximate bank angle of 30 degrees.

90-135 Degrees

The pilot should not hesitate at the 90° point but should continue to maneuver the airplane into a descending turn. The rollout from the bank should proceed slowly while the airplane’s pitch attitude is allowed to decrease. When the airplane has turned 135°, the airplane should be in its lowest pitch attitude (approximately 15 degrees below the horizon) and the bank angle should slowly be reduced to approximately 15 degrees.

135-180 Degrees

As the airplane approaches the 180° point, it is necessary to progressively relax rudder and aileron pressure while simultaneously raising pitch and roll to level flight. Upon arriving at 180° point, a climbing turn should be started immediately in the opposite direction toward the preselected reference points to complete the second half of the lazy eight in the same manner as the first half.

Common Errors

Not clearing the area 

Maneuver is not symmetrical across each 180° 

Inadequate or improper selection or use of 45°, 90°, 135° references 

Ineffective planning 

Gain or loss of altitude at each 180° point 

Poor control at the top of each climb segment resulting in the pitch rapidly falling through the horizon 

Airspeed or bank angle standards not met 

Control roughness 

Poor flight control coordination 

Stalling at any point during the maneuver 

Execution of a steep turn instead of a climbing maneuver 

Not scanning for other traffic during the maneuver 

Performing by reference to the flight instrument rather than visual references

Commercial Pilot ACS Standards

Clear the area. 

Select an altitude that will allow the maneuver to be performed no lower than 1,500 feet AGL. 

Establish the recommended entry configuration, power, and airspeed. 

Maintain coordinated flight throughout the maneuver. 

Complete the maneuver in accordance with the following: 

Approximately 30° bank at the steepest point 

Constant change of pitch and roll rate and airspeed 

Altitude at 180° point, ±100 feet from entry altitude 

Airspeed at the 180° point, ±10 knots from entry airspeed 

Heading at the 180° point, ±10 degrees 

Continue the maneuver through the number of symmetrical loops specified, then resume straight-and-level flight.

FAA Sources Used for This Lesson

Commercial Pilot Airmen Certification Standards

Airplane Flying Handbook (AFH) Chapter 9

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