Lesson Plan 2A—Attitudes and Movements

Flight Instructor Rating, Lesson Plan 2A, Langley Flying School

Cruise Attitude

Position the aircraft away from complex airspace, enabling uninterrupted turns; you should have a minimum of 1000’ of usable airspace above and below to enable sustained nose-up and nose-down attitudes.  Power set to 2400 RPM so as to permit nose-up and nose-down attitudes without power changes.  Minimize student distractions—i.e., radio chatter.  Begin the lesson once you are clear of departure obligations in straight and level flight.  In the portion of the flight preceding the beginning of this lesson, the student should be controlling the aircraft like the familiarization flight, responding to your verbal directions.

This exercise begins with the instructor establishing the aircraft in the cruise attitude.  Remember that concepts related to attitudes and movements are unfamiliar to the student and it is crucial to begin slowly, using lots of repetitions.

Student Perspective

At the very start, ask the student what they are able to see from their perspective.  Every student can see the glare shield, and point out that the glare shield represents the position of the wings of the aircraft. 

Then ask your student if they are able to see the engine cowling beyond the glare shield.  Of course students who sit tall in the pilot seat will be able to do so, while those who are shorter will only be able to see the glare shield.  The proper position for your student, by the way, is to see both the glare shield and a sliver of the engine cowling beyond, but Cherokee seat are not always adjustable, so you have to adjust your teaching.  

As part of the discussions on student perspective, include the visual reference for the aircraft’s longitudinal axis reference, which, in the case of the Cherokee, is the piano hinge along the cowling—they should be able to see this by slightly raising their eye height (sitting tall).  In the case of the Cherokee, point out that the piano hinge, the centre of attitude indicator, the centre of the heading indicator, and the axis of the control column shaft, all lined up with the center of the student’s seat, and therefore the students nose!

VPI Cycle for the Cruise Attitude

Continuing with the student’s front perspective (view straight ahead), you are no ready to lay into the cruise attitude. 

Begin by pointing out the parallel position of the horizon and the glare shield.  For greatest effect, you want the aircraft pointing towards a clear discernible horizon, which in the case of the lower mainland environment is the southern or southwestern directions.  With the geographic layout of the Lower Mainland, and the restricted airspace generally to the south, it is good to plan ahead with respect to aircraft position and ultimately adapt your teaching.

Back to the horizon, point out to the student how you can place your fingers in vertical alignment on the glare shield and reckon the number of fingers required to fill the space between the glare shield and the horizon.  “For me, Frankie, it’s three fingers . .”  Ask the student to do the same, so they too can reckon easily the proper distance between the glare shield and the horizon associated with cruise attitude.

More on the Horizon Reference

Tell the student that before moving on you want to talk a little bit more about the horizon line and how it can be reckoned in a mountainous environment.  If possible, turn the aircraft so as to provide a frontal perspective of the clear horizon line on one side, and mountainous horizon on the other side—turn the aircraft westerly, for example, to face downtown Vancouver, or turn south-easterly to face Bellingham—these will provide a split perspective.  Point out that if you continue the horizon line from the south (where a clear horizon is visible) through the mountainous terrain, you can reckon the approximate position of the horizon line where it projects through the mountainous terrain.  This takes some imagination, but you can point out, for example, the position between that extended horizon reference and the snow line or tree line in the mountains.  Also, if the opportunity presents, you can make reference to distant mountains and mention to your student that the proper horizon reference is the base of distant mountains.  Remember that this information regarding strategies to determine horizon reference in a mountainous area is critical for students in the lower mainland, so do take time to ensure the student has an understanding.

Wing Perspectives

The above completes the frontal perspective, so now it is time to move to the left wing perspective in the cruise attitude.  Here, draw attention to the apparent distance between the high point of the left wing tip and horizon line, as well as the apparent angle of attack of the wing that produces a higher leading-edge and a lower trailing edge.  The same is then done for the right wing perspective.

The idea behind this effort in looking at the wings is that the student will hopefully be able to recognize and control the attitude of the aircraft using only the wing reference—or at least the student will be equipped to still maintain attitude control when looking out the left or right side of the aircraft.

The VPI Cycle

The above then completes the visual portion of the VPI cycle—that is the teaching cycle commonly used during air instruction, consisting of visual referencesphysical references, and instrument confirmation.  

Physical Clues

To move now to the physical aspects of the cruise altitude, simply pose the rhetorical question—What does it feels like to be in the cruise attitude?  Like sitting on the couch watching TV?  Discussed briefly the physical sensations of movements and flight—that there aren’t many clues to the aircraft’s movement, except perhaps aircraft’s response to turbulence.  Point out the sounds that can be heard in the cockpit over the headset, including the distinction between engine sound and vibration, and wind noise.  Lift a headset ear cup and listen as well.  Point out, as well, that these sounds are constant, indicating constant speed.

Instrument Confirmation

Finally, point out the instrument confirmation of the cruise attitude.  The overriding goal here is to downplay the significance of the flight instruments.  Limit your reference to the airspeed indicator, the altimeter, the heading indicator, and the RPM gauge.  With respect to the airspeed indicator, point out that the airspeed is constant and in the cruise range—“By the way, Frankie, can you tell me what speed we are flying at?”  The same with the altimeter—it is constant (neither increasing nor decreasing).  “What is our altitude now Frankie?”  The heading indicator is reviewed in a similar fashion.  Finally, note the RPM gauge reading—see in the cruise range, approximately in the middle between 2000 RPM and 2500 RPM.  Why not the remaining flight instruments?  They are distractions that are not relevant to attitudes and movements—you’ll get on to them later.

Student Practice

The VPI cycle for cruise attitude is therefore complete.  A good instructor what to now get your student engaged in some form of meaningful activity where the concepts learned can be applied.  Here, advise the student that you are going to put the aircraft out of the cruise attitude slightly, and then asked them to restore it to the cruise attitude using what they know so far about control inputs.  

Using approximately ½ the normal range of moments, pitch the aircraft up, ask the student to produce the cruise attitude, and then pass control of the aircraft.  (Note that you say instruction before you pass control.)  When the student accomplishes this, ask the student how they know the aircraft is in the cruise attitude—the student will hopefully then review the VPI information just provided.  Repeat these mini-drills using gentle ½ normal range movements for the nose-down, and then combinations of bank and pitch variations.  Then repeat the same mini-drills but ask the student to now visual reference to the left and right wing tips separately.  Lots of repetitions should be used, but be sure your student doesn’t get bored. Be the passing of control is properly executed by your student.

Pitching Movements

You are now ready to move on to the nose-down and nose-down attitudes, but to get there, your student must first learn the movement of pitch.  Begin by moving the nose of the aircraft slowly and gently up and down, (1/4 normal deflection up and down) announcing that this is the pitch movement.  (Note that you cannot stop the movement when you are demonstrating it because of course this would be an attitude, not a movement.)  Point out that the movement is produced by moving the control column forward and aft, and that this deflects the stabilator.  Have your student student look over their left shoulder and now feather the control column forward and aft so as to produce a wiggling of the stabilator.  (If you do this right, with the right amount of deflection and the correct timing, the movement of the stabilator is clearly visible.)  Invite your student to also wiggle the stabilator. 

Normal Range and Full Range of Pitching Movement

Then move on to show the student the normal range of pitch movement; this should be roughly between the normal nose-up and normal nose-down attitudes.  (Again, be sure not to stop the movement so as to inadvertently produce an attitude.)  Verbally passing control to your student, invite them to do the same.  Receiving control from your student, now show them the full range of movement, which, as a rule of thumb, you can regard as simply a doubling the normal range that you just demonstrated.  Using correct parlance for passing control, invite your student to do the same—that is, the full range of pitching movement.  Remember, even though the activities of the student here may appear somewhat elementary and therefore insignificant, the purpose is for them to learn how to handle the aircraft controls with gentleness and smoothness, and for them to get a feel for the aircraft’s responses to their inputs, and this passing of control back and forth keeps the student engaged in what you’re showing them.

Nose-up Attitude

From here, proceed directly to the nose-up attitude.  You want to avoid any power changes here as this is distracting, so the secret is to have a strong cruise power setting (2400 RPM) that can sustain a prolonged nose-up attitude; more importantly, be sure not to raise the nose too high—put the nose on the horizon, but not above. 

Begin the VPI cycle again with reference first to the frontal view.  Going out the overlay positions of the glareshield and the horizon, keeping in mind that you can now reduce the detail you provide the student compared to when you first introduced the cruise attitude.  Moved to the wingtip views, pointing out the apparent increased angle of attack.  Then note the physical indications of the nose-up attitude, including the reduced visibility, the laid-back feeling and the changes in the wind and engine sounds and vibration.  Finally, confirmation of the nose-up attitude can be derived from instrument indications, including a reduced airspeed, and arising altimeter.  By the way, what is the reading of the airspeed indicator, and what is the reading of the altimeter?  There are no turn indications on the heading indicator.  The RPM gauge is showing a reduced reading because the engine is working harder as is effectively going.

Produce and Control

“Before you try it, Frankie, let me should you something that's important . .”  This is the line used to transition the student form the nose-up attitude to the concept of “produce and control”. 

Keeping the aircraft in the nose up attitude, explain to your student that you want to show him something before he tries it.  Point out to your student that the aircraft will not naturally maintain the nose up attitude, but will instead resist the back-pressure input, and return to the cruise attitude if this is not maintain.  Have the student feel the amount of back pressure that is required “. . here, Frankie, take the control column and feel the pressure . .”

Tell you student to watch what happens when you let go of the control column—that the nose will drop and begin a series of “phugoids” (yes, use the word)—pitching oscillations that will eventually decrease and return the aircraft to the cruise attitude. 

Take control of control column and demonstrate how you produce, and then control, the pitching movement, so as to produce the nose-up attitude.  The language is awkward here, so be sure to practice your lines.  Also, be sure you say want you are going to do (i.e., return to the nose-up attitude) before you do it, so you student is ready to observe.

Your student’s turn is next.  Ask your student to produce a nose up attitude, and then ask him to explain how he knows this is the cruise attitude (he should recite the clues).

As him to repeat the movements and ensure the control of the aircraft is gentle and smooth.

Nose-down Attitude

The nose-down attitude is repeated variations from the nose-up attitude.  If you use a gentle nose-down attitude, you will not have to reduce the power; let the airspeed rise to the higher end of the green arc on the ASI, and RPMs rise accordingly.  Cycle through the VPI, and demonstrate again the need to hold the control column to counter the aircraft resistance.  Remember not to make trim adjustments. 

Roll Movement

Moving on to roll movement, use the same teaching sequences applied for pitching movement.  Begin by rolling the aircraft slowly and gently left and right, (5° deflection left and right) announcing that this is the movement of roll.  (Note again not to stop the movement as this would be an attitude.)  Point out that the movement is produced by moving the control column left and right, and that this deflects the aileron.  Have your student look to the wings and now feather the control column laft and right so as to produce a wiggling of the ailerons.  Invite your student to do the same. 

Normal Range and Full Range of Roll Movement

Then show the student the normal range and then the full range of roll movement; this should be roughly be 15° and 30° respectively.  Using correct parlance for passing control, invite your student to do the same—that is, input both the normal and full ranges of rolling movement.

Banked Attitudes

The air instruction on the banked attitudes should be framed in the same fashion as the nose-up and nose-down attitudes, including the VPI cycle and the need to produce and control the roll movement.  You should review left and right banked in sequence simultaneously as this will speed up the lesson a bit for a student how is already familiar with basic flight control.

Produce and Control

Before you let the student practice the banked attitudes, determine together if the aircraft will maintain a banked attitude if you release the control column.  First demonstrate a left bank and note the aircraft’s response, and then demonstrate the right bank and note the aircraft’s response.  Typically the aircraft will behave differently, depending on the rudder trim setting.

Student Practice

Assign left and right banked attitudes to the student, interspersing the cruise attitude for reference.  Ensure the student’s performance is smooth and gentle and precise.


Demonstrate for your student combinations of attitudes, and then have them practice.  “Okay Frankie, give me a nose-up, left banked attitude.  Good.  Now a nose-down, right banked.  Good . .”


The final part of the flight lesson focuses on the movement of yaw.  Right from the beginning, emphasized that the movement of yaw is something to the control, and that in most instances of flight, it is undesirable.  There are of course exceptions, but you will explain this to your student later.

Apply the same template that was used earlier in the flight with other movements.  Begin with very gentle swinging of the aircraft nose using the rudder pedals—“This is yaw, Frankie”.  Be sure that the oscillating right and left rudder pedal inputs are smooth and gentle, and also be sure to artificially maintain a level glareshield by using opposing aileron inputs.  Draw your student attention to the movement of on the rudder pedals, and then invite them to do the same.  Your student should only use feet on the rudder pedals, and should remain clear of the control column.

You are now ready to begin a VPI cycle for your.  Ensuring that your aircraft is at a safe airspeed—i.e., below Va—smoothly apply full rudder in in one direction and hold.  Artificially, continue to maintain opposing aileron inputs so as to hold the glareshield parallel to the horizon.  Point out the visual indication looking directly in front of the aircraft, which of course appears as a level turn.  Draw attention to the inside wing, which is moving rearward, and the opposite outside wing, which is moving forward.  Note the important physical clues of yaw—the uncomfortable shifting of body weight towards the outside wing.  “Do you feel that Frankie . .  how you can’t sit straight in your seat?” Smoothly return the aircraft to a zero-yaw state, drawing attention to the physical clues; then return smoothly to full rudder input in the opposite direction, and again draw attention to the physical clues.  Neutralize the rudder pedals and then invite the student to smoothly depress the rudder pedal full deflection so that they can experience the cause and effect relationship of yaw.  Repeat in the opposite direction.  After the student has neutralize the rudder pedals as instructed, demonstrate the yaw ball indications of yaw, noting that the ball moves to the left or right just as we move left or right in our pilot seats.  Have the student take control of the rudder pedals and note the cause and effect relationship between rudder pedal movement and yaw ball movement.

Now you are ready to demonstrate to the student the disruptive nature of yaw.  Point out that uncontrolled yaw produces roll and then pitch changes in the aircraft.  “Watch this Frankie . . .”  After removing your hands from the control column smoothly and gently input slight rudder pedal pressure well repeating that yaw produces roll, and then produces pitch changes.  Remember that rudder inputs should be very slight here so as not to startle the student—depress the pedal until the rule starts, and then maintain that constant pressure throughout the subsequent roll and pitch movements. Invite your student to perform the same sequence using the same gentle rudder input.

Now you are ready to introduce your student to instances of the yaw, and of course the pilot’s response to control or neutralize the yaw. The three instances of your to examine our slipstream, aileron drag, and asymmetric thrust. This demonstration and practice requires precise observations by your student and it is important throughout to ensure the student observes the lateral movement of the aircraft nose by focusing on a feature of the nose or Cowling—such as a rivet or hinge line—and observing its subtle movement relative to a sky or land feature. In all three instances, demonstrate the consequence of uncontrolled yaw first, and then effective yaw control.


To demonstrate slipstream yaw, establish the aircraft in straight and level flight in the slow speed cruise range. Trim for hands-free flight.  "Okay Frankie, the one should be carefully watch the movement of the nose when I increase the power—tell me which way it moves, left or right". Smoothly, but rapidly, push the throttle to the full throttle position. “Did you see that Frankie?” Repeat if necessary. Now demonstrate rudder input to neutralize your while repeating the throttle movements. Now invite your student to try. “Which rudder to I have to use to control yaw when the throttle is open Frankie? . . That’s right, Frankie, the right rudder . .”