Updated: Jul 17
Whether you are performing high altitude maneuvers or ground reference maneuvers, clearing turns provide more than just looking out for other traffic. Yes, other traffic is our main concern, but let’s look at some other aspects of what a clearing turn does for us.
If you are conducting flight training in an area that has a high volume of air traffic, remaining in your practice area while performing your maneuvers is key to avoiding other traffic. Once you have located the area you want to perform your maneuvers in, deciding how to perform a clearing turn will not only help you scan for traffic, but it will also help you remain within your designated practice area.
If you are over the area which you chose to practice, two 90-degree turns will keep you within your practice area. If you are heading past your practice area after performing a maneuver, and setting up for the next maneuver, maybe a 180-degree turn is warranted to help you remain within your designated area.
Also, when performing a clearing turn, it is wise to make the first turn to the left. Why, you may ask. Well, if you are thinking about right-of-way rules, and aircraft that may be overtaking you, they should be overtaking on the right side of you, so making your first turn to the left will help prevent a conflict with an aircraft trying to overtake you.
I know with the latest technology, ADS-B gives us more help with looking for traffic, but remember, some of the areas you maybe flying in, ADS-B may not be required, so not all the traffic around you may show up on your screen, so a proper scan of the sky is also required.
Oh, and the last thing I am going to say. For every maneuver you will perform on your checkride, the first Skill item is, “CLEAR THE AREA”.
Below are helpful links to provide you with more information on clearing the area.