Pilot's tip of the week

Drag on a Power-Off 180


Subscriber question:

"I want to practice precision Power-Off 180s to landing in my Cessna 182 and I'm not sure on the technique. After pulling the power to idle, I put in full trim and pull the prop all the way back. This makes a big difference in my glide ratio and how I land. But it could complicate a go-round. What do you endorse?" —Sean M.


“I’m assuming you’re putting in full nose-up trim to easily maintain a speed near best glide and full coarse pitch on the prop to maximize glide range. That’s fine if you’re traveling toward a forced landing area, but it’s probably unnecessary if you’re already in position for a gliding 180 to a touchdown. And, as you said, if you go around you’ll need forward prop for full power and a lot of forward pressure to avoid a stall, until you dial out that nose-up trim. So, I wouldn’t do power-off 180s in that configuration.

There’s another reason to keep the prop full-forward for a power-off 180. Every airplane is different, but the best general strategy for a power-off 180 is to configure for something between your lowest drag and your highest drag as you commence the 180-degree turn toward your target touchdown point. This leaves your options open to either increase or decrease your descent rate as needed.

Because a slip is almost always available to increase your descent rate, keeping something to decrease it is what most people forget. That’s why I recommend keeping the prop forward for the entire maneuver. If you miscalculate and are coming up short, you can pull the prop to coarse pitch and extend your range a bit. And if the prop is forward, that’s one less thing to change if this is practice and you must go around.

In most airplanes, I also recommend extending only approach flaps. You can go to full flaps once you’re lined up and know you have your target made. But you can also wait to extend those final flaps until you’re in ground effect when the ballooning effect of extending flaps can carry the airplane farther before touchdown if necessary.”

Do you practice Power-Off 180s?

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