During the Pre-Solo phase of their training, flight students are introduced to what are known as Ground Reference Maneuvers. These include 1) Rectangular Pattern, 2) Turns Around a Point, and 3) S-Turns Across a Road. The purpose of the maneuvers is for students to learn how to make the airplane follow an intended track over the ground without allowing the wind to cause the plane to drift off that track. This is accomplished through wind correction angles on the heading and with varying degrees of bank in the turns, depending on how the wind is influencing the plane’s ground speed. Faster ground speed (tail winds) requires steeper banked turns and slower ground speeds (headwinds) require shallower turns. As the student progresses through the three maneuvers, increased finesse and precision are necessary to fly the designated track.
Below are the GPS tracks for a GRM lesson flown at 1000′ altitude yesterday afternoon. Winds were approximately 12 knots from the North. This being the student’s first time flying the maneuvers, I’d say they did fairly well. With practice, of course, the student’s performance will improve.