One day while completing a BFR, my CFI, a 13,000-hour captain and friend, demonstrated a Lazy 8 maneuver. He said he was bored
I’ll admit, my flying is pretty dry stuff most of the time. It was fun and I began practicing Lazy 8s the very next day.
A Lazy 8 is not an extreme aerobatic maneuver, but is a bit of a thrill for a stodgy ho-hum pilot like me. I love to practice Lazy 8s because of the sensations in the seat of my pants and the challenge of making them near perfect.
Think of a horizontal figure 8 suspended maybe 4,000 feet above the surface with the top and the bottom of the 8 pushed up.
After some clearing turns, I fly over a straight span of interstate highway as a reference point. Level at 100 knots, I move the yoke to the left until I have a 4° or 5° bank angle and return the yoke to center. Then the fun begins as I pull back the yoke and the Gs begin to increase. The turn must be coordinated and as the nose rises you are looking at the sky above.
The plane has a natural tendency to overbank and when it reaches the point that there is not enough vertical lift to hold up the plane (about 15 knots above stall speed and 30° of bank in my Warrior) the nose will fall through the horizon as I slowly release pressure on the yoke. At this point, my altitude has increased about 400 feet and I am 90° to the interstate. I smoothly release the yoke to complete the other 90° and return to level flight at the beginning altitude.
Then I repeat the maneuver to the right (the other half of the figure 8) which is the same except more rudder input is needed to offset the left turning tendency of the plane.
Not exactly a roller coaster, but it ruffles my fun feathers.
Recently I took two of my grandsons (age 9 in the back seat and the 13 year old in the co-pilot seat) up for some flying time on a very pretty day. I headed for the practice area and that straight stretch of interstate.
Our previous flights had been straight and level and I explained that we were going to do Lazy 8s and described the maneuver to them so they would not freak out. As I pointed the nose up, the 9 year old squealed with delight. The 13 year old uttered “Wow Papa” as we first felt the gravity increase, then “Whoa neat” as the gravity decreased when the nose fell through the horizon. We had so much fun that we continued the Lazy 8s for another 30 minutes.
I fly for fun and this is fun to me. No need to go inverted or get really extreme.
I believe grandparents have a duty to spoil their grandkids, so we headed to a nearby airport for some serious ice cream. On the return to my home airport, I threw in some 45° high bank turns left and right and a power-off spiral. Expressions of glee rang through the headsets.
At the end of the day, my grandkids thought I was the best aerobatic pilot ever. If you happen to meet my grandkids sometime, please don’t tell them the truth!