Eights On Pylons Advice


Well-Known Member
I have a quick question regarding Eights on Pylons....

How do you judge the proper distance betwen pivot points? I'm having a pretty difficult time finding two points that are the right distance apart. I'm also afraid that on the checkride I will piss the examiner off by taking to long to find a place that will be just right for the maneuver.

Anyone have any helpful hints? My CFI seems to say it's just a judgement call and I'm asking just to make sure there isn't some trick floating around out there.

Don't let the examiner rush you! Take time to set up your maneuvers properly -- he can't fail you for that. If you know where you are going to do your checkride, scout out the area before to pick out two pylons. The pylons shoudl be about two miles apart if I remember correctly.
2 miles apart?! No way.....Muuuuch closer than that...

I used to set up the manuever such that I was flying with the wind directly off my right wing.

Next I would find a suitable pylon off my right wing and then count from 12-16 seconds and look for another pylon off the right wing.

With these two pylons in sight I would then make a right turn and head the plane directly upwind. From there you make one more right turn and you are set up on a 45 degree angle.

Try drawing what I said on paper.

Remember, you should be wings level for only 3-5 seconds while in the manuever between the pylons. (Right out of the Comm PTS).
2 miles is waaaayy too far apart. I teach baronman's method so students can calibrate their eyeballs to the distance (after a couple times they should be able to judge it). If you do the math it works out to around .4 miles apart.
That sounds good; 12-16 seconds straight line distance between pylons, then basicaly a 135 degree turn into the wind to position yourself for a right turn around the first pylon.

I'll be sure and give this method a try when I go up again on Friday afternoon.
You don't have to pick the pylons before starting the maneuver. Last I checked the PTS only said you had to essentially "plan ahead." My first 141 flight school had me do it this way:
Clear the area
Find wind direction; smoke, water, winds aloft-whatever.
Maneuver so that the winds are off your back left and at about "that altitude" (ok, i can't remember-ya know, the 3 letter acronym, whats that called again? GS^2/11.3="special" alt)
Roll the left wing onto a good point, whatever you see. Adjust alt. during the turn to maintain the point.
When the winds are off the back right, roll level and count..1...2...3 now look right and if there is nothing substantial then go...4...look again...5...you should have something by now.
Roll right and finish the turn.
I've found when you do it that way you can find the same pylon every time. I've gone around the same pylons many times doing it that way. In strong winds i find that a bit fun.
If the PTS still says "plan ahead" clear the area and have the first pylon in mind when you maneuver and then just use what works on the second.
just out of curiousity, how long can you take to set up your maneuvers? I think the longest i've waited on a maneuver was about a min or so and the examiner was pushing me allong...but as far as the pts goes, he cant fail you unless you run out of gas? I've allways wondered....
I'm with highspeed. I just pick my first pylon and have somehwat of an idea what I would like for the second and go. Usually about 3-5 seconds in between points (while flying the manuever) works. I count one one thousand, two one thousand, ...... If find the point by 3, great but I always have the extra seconds to work with.

I don't see anywhere in the FAR's that says you must complete your checkride in a given amount of time. You're paying your DE for their time, don't let them rush you. As a matter of fact, you're paying them pretty well. A checkride should be a learning experience. The tougher they get and the more time your DE takes with you, the more you're going to learn.
Remember, you should be wings level for only 3-5 seconds while in the manuever between the pylons. (Right out of the Comm PTS).

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They actually took the 3-5 second requirement out of the PTS in the last change in August. The only thing it says now is that the applicant "selects suitable pylons, that will permit straight and level flight, between the pylons." I still teach to go by the 3-5 second "straight and level" count in between the pylons because it does work out very well. I also strongly agree with the other posts that a count of 12-15 seconds works out very well. Any more than that and the maneuver turns into a "bomber" eights-on.
i have seen with myself and with students that th elonger the period of time in between pylons, the more chances one has of screwing up wind drift correctin, etc.. keep em tight.. get it over and done with.

I also agree that this is really a fun maneuver to do.
I did them on my Commercial stagecheck today (Comair, not FAA) and i selected my points about 15 sec. apart and entered as previously stated. After rolling out of my first turn I saw that my second point was way too close, so I just told the stagecheck guy that I was going to use a point a little further down the road and it was no problem. I don't know if most examiners will let you do that or not, but that worked for me. I also agree about keeping them tight, too much to screw up if you take too long...