Eights on Pylons in CloudAhoy (commercial maneuver)

Eights on Pylons is a commercial maneuver, recently added to CloudAhoy – we can now Identify it and score it.  

Eights on Pylons is a ground maneuver, using two reference points, called pivot points, or pylons. The goal is to fly a figure 8 pattern over the ground while varying the aircraft’s altitude in order to maintain a defined visual reference to the pylons. The heading is continually changing  from directly downwind to directly upwind, and as a result the ground speed is constantly changing, causing the pivotal altitude to vary slightly throughout the eight. Therefore, a constant adjustment is needed, by climbing or descending, to hold the reference line or point on the pylons.

The challenge about Eights on Pylons is the need for accurate maneuvering of the airplane and keeping it coordinated, while dividing attention between the flight path and the selected points on the ground.

We developed this feature in collaboration with Paul M. Cairns, Assistant Chief Flight Instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach Campus.  Paul says “This maneuver is the most beneficial to grade, because it is a challenge to grasp conceptually and visually. It is an exercise in division of attention, manipulating all the flight controls simultaneously, and the effect of wind on ground speed and pivotal altitude.”


A well-executed Eights on Pylons:

Well executed Eights on Pylons

Paul’s remarks: Excellent entry at appropriate speed and altitude AGL, upon starting first turn, slight descent turning upwind was excellent, level flight from upwind to crosswind then a slight climb turning downwind again, second turn around second pylon also very good and nearly symmetrical to first – well within standards.


The example below shows a poor  example: 

Poor executed Eights on Pylons

Paul’s remarks: in the execution of Eights on Pylons the starting altitude is too high – above pivotal altitude, and ground track not symmetrical.


Here is another example of a well executed Eights on Pylons:

Notice how we use the ‘declutter’ feature in the Segment Manager, to focus on the Eights on Pylons maneuver. The entire flight is shown on the right in 2D, with the color coding to designate each maneuver. 

Well executed Eights on Pylons

Paul’s remarks: Well flown and well within standards. In this flight wind was very light so altitude changes were minimal, coordination good throughout. The entry was a couple hundred feet southwest of the mid-point between pylons and the turn around the second pylon was ended a few degrees early so crossed a couple hundred feet northeast of the mid-point between pylons resulting in the entry path and exit path not lining up with one another.


Additional reading: 

[1] Sporty’s Flight Training Central

[2] CFI Notebook

[3] FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, 7-13


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