Clearing Turns Before Flight Maneuvers
Votes
Open

Student pilot question for clarity:  When preparing to conduct flight maneuvers in the training area, the first two steps are always the Pre-Maneuver Checklist, followed by Clearing Turns.  I understand that clearing turns should consist of at least a 180* change of direction (i.e., two 90* turns), and I certainly understand their importance.  

What I want to be sure of is that if I begin on an initial heading of 000*/N, for example, and complete my pre-maneuver checklist, and visually scan the area ahead (left, right, below; etc.), then my first clearing turn might be to the LEFT, from 000* to 270*/W to visually inspect the area (left, right, below, etc., permitting a view to the S, W, and N).  Is my second clearing turn a turn to the RIGHT just a 90* turn (to resume a 000*/N heading, permitting a view to the W, N and E) OR a 180* turn to the RIGHT (to a new heading of 090*/E, providing a view to the N, E, and S), to complete my visual scan?  

A 90* turn back to the RIGHT traverses the same quadrant of sky in view when I did my original 90* turn to the LEFT, but does not seem to constitute a full 180* change in direction, per se--or does it?  I get that the two 90* turns, as described, allow scans to the north west, south and east, but I want to verify this is sufficient. 

Thank you.
3 Replies
Votes
Thank you both for answering; I fully understand the purpose and intent behind the clearing turns, but the language left a little bit of ambiguity that I sought to clarify.  Your responses make sense to me.
Votes
I am in agreement with Ron. If your school has a specific procedure, or your instructor does, follow that. Otherwise, two 90 degree turns work fine to clear the area. Just be sure you are searching the sky while turning. The goal is to find aircraft to avoid a collision just prior to getting busy with a maneuver.
Votes
1147 Posts
There is no FAA specification for clearing turns, just that you do what is necessary to make sure you don't hit anyone.  See the Airplane Flying Handbook page 1-12.