Secrets to Flying a Precision Roll

May 02, 2012 10 Comments by

Because it’s used in so many other maneuvers, it’s important to perfect this one and add it to your foundation repertoire. High-speed rolls are generally easier to start with because inertia is a tremendous help. Long, graceful rolls are usually done at medium to high speed to allow inertia to help keep the maneuver axial. Keep the midsection of the roll (when the plane is directly inverted) centered on your position.

1. Begin the maneuver by flying straight and level either into the wind or downwind and then initiate the roll with a little aileron (constantly maintain that throughout the maneuver).

2. As the roll begins, apply rudder to maintain a straight and level heading. (If the roll is to the right, use left rudder and vice-versa.) The maximum amount of rudder will be required when the wing reaches vertical.

3. As the plane continues to roll past vertical, strt to ease off on the rudder and begin to apply down-elevator until the plane is inverted. At this point, you should have applied the maximum down-elevator needed to maintain level flight.

4. As the roll continues, begin to ease off elevator and apply the appropriate rudder (at this point, right rudder for a roll to the right) to maintain altitude as the plane rolls around again to vertical. When the wing is in the second vertical position, the plane should again have the maximum amount of rudder, with no elevator input necessary to maintain level flight.

5. The plane will contineueto roll over until it is in the upright position. During this time, slowly release the rudder stick so that there is no rudder input when the plane reaches its upright position. Exit at the same altitude at which you started the maneuver.

Problems can occur if you push too much down-elevator as the plane is inverted.

Another frequent error is pushing the elevator stick too soon, while the plane is right-side up, or not releasing the elevator quickly enough as the plane rolls back over.


Fixed-Wing Flight School

About the author

Executive editor About me: I’m a publishing professional who has a passion for aviation and RC, and I love creating issues, books and a website that help RC pilots to enjoy this sport even more. I admire scale aircraft and enjoy the convenience of flying smaller electrics.

10 Responses to “Secrets to Flying a Precision Roll”

  1. Chuck says:

    this is about as lame as it can get! Maybe this applies to a very sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow roll, but not to the typical roll done in competion, or even sport flying.

  2. Dave Vinch says:

    Don’t be negative Chuck, if you have insights to share-tell us. There are people out here (like me)who have no one to ask and we’re trying to learn on our own. We look to these articles to help us figure out what we are doing wrong.

  3. David Powell says:

    Any plane set up for a roll rate any slower than 3 consecutive rolls in about 4-5 secs. will need to have rudder applied to keep the plane from losing altitude in the 90 degree, vertical portions of the roll to keep the roll axial.With a “flick” roll rate, there is hardly time to get on and off the rudder, and this kind of a roll is as easy to do as it is unimpressive, hence it is the roll that most sport flyers are seen doing. An advanced flyer doesn’t have to do a super slow roll, but if done in even 4 sec. with the use of rudder to finesse the plane through the roll, will stand out from the rest of the crowd every time (5-6 sec. even better!) Sent from Dave Powell

  4. Richard says:

    Basic and clear – thanks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you want to do a nice victory rule in a war bird you will deff. need to use the rudder. Anyone can di a snap a[leron role!

  6. Whit Philbrick says:

    I think it’s a well written, concise procedure for a maneuver that is easy to do but difficult to do well.


  7. Frank says:

    I enjoy practicing slow rolls with my trainer (a lot of dihedral and semi symmetrical airfoil) . Just about all of the controls are “coupled” (one affects the other). Without rudder and elevator inputs the plane will soon be diving towards the earth. When starting the roll and adding “top” rudder, the plane tends to stop rolling or even roll the other way, so more aileron is needed to keep the same roll rate. The reverse happens on the last half of the roll. It is easy to cheat a little by putting the plane about 20 degrees nose up before starting the roll and then do nothing but hold aileron. The plane will complete the roll at about 20 degrees nose down. Every plane is different of course. No matter how I do the roll, I still have fun.

  8. Tom Pomeroy says:

    Master inverted flight. Inverted figure eights and approaches.
    Then start by leaving out the rudder commands.
    Bup Nose up slightly before entry.
    Bump nose up again slightly when inverted. (bump stick fwd).
    When you have that mastered, start adding rudder bumps on the knife edges.
    Wouldn’t hurt to master knife edge flight if your plane can.
    Trying to lean to do all at once is …….overwhelming. MHO
    As it was said, a good slow roll is as pretty as it is difficult.
    Only those who attempt it know how difficult.

  9. Brooks Martin says:

    This rudder advice is different from a slow roll performed in a real airplane. I paraphrase from “Fly for Fun” pg. 145 by Bill Thomas (famous acrobatic competitor and instructor for full sized planes, He also flew RC acrobatics):
    For roll to Left:
    “Start with a little rudder to the Left, which is gradually decreased until you get to the 45deg bank position.
    Feed in a little Right rudder and increase till max Right as you reach inverted.
    After reaching inverted, ease off Right rudder until you get to 45deg inverted bank.
    Feed in a little Left rudder, and increase until max Left as you return to level flight, at which point when you neutralize the rudder:”

    I don’t know why a model would need different rudder movement than a real plane.
    I fly acro in a Stearman and a Pitts S2-B, but have only rudder/elevator/throttle RC planes.

  10. James says:

    I have to agree with Frank, sounds like he also might have an Avistar, wonderful “advanced sports” trainer.
    Yes you have to link this to make any plane roll nice and slow, and if it is not a mid wing, it is even more important to learn how to roll like this.

Copyright © 2014 Air Age Media. All rights reserved.