Key points:
  • Lookout is your first priority
  • A good routine: lookout, attitude, instruments
  • A steady angle of bank helps


As we have stressed before, the most important safety rule in the world of gliding is to keep track of what is happening around you. A proper lookout is extremely important. Get used to frequently looking from side to side. For this purpose, we introduced the scan cycle (lookout - attitude - instruments). We also encouraged you to tell your flight instructor about every aircraft or glider you see. Now, before starting a left turn, first check for other aircraft at the height of the horizon, from right to left. You start by turning your head completely to the right, and then completely to the left, looking especially behind the wing. Tell your instructor what you see. If there is no other traffic, look back over the nose and initiate the turn. For every turn you will ever make: look first and then initiate! While turning, keep looking in the direction of the turn every few seconds.


In Lesson 5, you were introduced to using ailerons and rudder together. This coordination is an integral part of what you do on entering or leaving a turn, and so most helpful if you are able to develop it as a habit early on.

  • Lookout
  • Roll with stick, rudder & then a little back-pressure
  • At the angle of bank you want, centralise stick and rudder (not quite the complete story, but a good start)

Your first turns will be at a modest bank angle (about 20-30°). During the turn, you will notice that the glider wants to lower its nose and fly faster. Prevent this by gently pulling the stick back a little (towards you). The nose should stay at the same level against the horizon as when you started.


Try to continue making turns at a constant bank angle. If you need to adjust the bank angle, use coordinated aileron and rudder movements. You are now circling. Check your pitch attitude frequently and look for other traffic, especially in the direction of the turn. Take a brief look at your flight instruments every now and then. If you are flying a properly coordinated turn, the yaw string will point straight up the canopy.

A clear and helpful routine:

  • Lookout – particularly in the direction of turn, just above and below the horizon 
  • Brief check of attitude to correct or confirm it is what you want
  • Brief check of instruments, including string If you adjust the angle of bank, everything else needs to be adjusted, so it pays to keep the angle steady.


Setting the trim can be very helpful during a steady turn, just as when flying straight, but, because you will not be in the turn for very long, it is not worth doing. Instead, leave the glider trimmed for straight flight. During prolonged turns, trim just like normal then re-trim once straight.


If you find the coordination of stick and rudder a little difficult at first, your instructor may ask you to practice just the rolling bit of turn entry and exit. Remember though to keep looking out. It is very easy to let thinking about the string distract you from this vital task. Your instructor will ask you to roll left or right on his/her calls and even ask you to roll quickly or slowly. You will need to:

  • Keep looking out (yes, we won’t let you forget this)
  • Use stick and rudder together
  • Control the airspeed, just like normal, with pitch (don’t bother if you are in trim)
  • Normally, the nose tends to drop, needing a little back-pressure to hold it in place. This back-pressure should be removed whenever the wings are level
  • Monitor the string to tell if you are using the right amount of rudder 
  • Monitor the airspeed indicator to tell if you are getting the pitch right

No one will ask for perfection, but if good habits are developing you will find it a great help for turning itself.


If you turn at a reasonable angle of bank (30° or more) you may find the bank angle wants to increase. The outer wing covers a larger distance and therefore flies slightly faster, producing more lift. This would result in additional bank (more roll) if not corrected. To prevent an increase in bank angle, you need to apply some aileron out of the turn. In other words, you will need to move the stick slightly to the right in a steady turn to the left (and the other way around).

If your bank angle is very small this effect will be negligible and, instead, you may find the wings want to roll level by themselves because of the roll stability of many training gliders. In this case you may need to hold a little into turn aileron – or just increase your bank a bit. For every turn, try to find the ‘sweet spot’ for the stick, where the bank angle stays constant. The more bank you have, the more the nose will want to go down in the turn, and the more back pressure on the stick you need to maintain the correct attitude.

The nose is kept pointing directly into the airflow (string straight) by a slight deflection of the rudder in the direction of the turn, but it’s important not to overdo this (see Lesson 4.22).


  • Lookout; particularly in the direction you will be going and below the upper wing
  • Roll (just like you have practiced: stick, rudder & relax the back-pressure)
  • When the wings are level, centralise stick and rudder and re-trim


Turn reversals require a small change in elevator input to maintain the pitch attitude. When practicing turn reversals, you won’t need other techniques than introduced in this lesson, but they provide invaluable opportunity to consolidate everything you have learned for turning. Your instructor will ask you to change your direction of turn, without pausing for any straight flight.

You will need to prioritise lookout and remember the routines for entering and leaving each turn.
An easy mistake to make is maintaining the back-pressure when passing wing level - it will pull the nose up and reduce your speed. Instead, be ready to relax the back-pressure each time the wings are level.

When making turn reversals, we maintain our pitch attitude and keep the string in the middle.