Secrets to Inverted Flight

Jan 11, 2013 12 Comments by

Nearly all aerobatic maneuvers involve some segment(s) of inverted flight, so to keep progressing, you need to develop proficiency with inverted flight. To start, let’s do away with the often repeated reference to the elevator being reversed when the plane is upside-down. It is that kind of thinking that causes people to become confused and second-guess themselves, or worse! A much simpler and more effective approach is to remember that you will always push forward-elevator during inverted flight. If the plane descends, push harder (you are not pushing enough). When it climbs, push less (you are pushing too much). The ailerons, of course, work the same whether upright or inverted.

Learning to fly inverted is also easier if you throttle back to a more moderate airspeed. Not only will you have more time to think, but a lower airspeed also will require you to push more forward-elevator to hold the plane level and thus provide a greater range of feel for the elevator. It’s also smart to enter the first few attempts from a slight climb to reduce your initial anxiety. As your confidence and technique improve, you can gradually increase throttle to start achieving the airspeeds needed for aerobatics, and the climbing entry can be gradually eliminated.

The next most important step is to develop the habit of recovering from inverted by rolling upright with the aileron, especially if you become confused. In fact, rolling upright should be your response anytime you are not comfortable. In the event that you become confused, it is usually best to input aileron in whatever direction you prefer and thus more quickly upright the airplane than you would if you contemplate which way to roll and then act. Developing the habit of recovering from inverted with aileron becomes routine very quickly simply by repeating the exercise of rolling inverted for two or three seconds and then rolling back to upright.

Another crucial element during your initial inverted practice is making sure that the 1/2 roll to inverted is completed with the wings perfectly level before you start to push, because pushing with the wings banked will initiate an unintentional turn that will almost certainly lead to some confusion.

I have stressed the importance of maintaining consistent parallel lines with the runway during aerobatics again and again in previous articles, and so I won’t repeat it here. Let it just be said that the majority of the problems that people experience when learning aerobatics would be solved more quickly-or plain disappear!-if more emphasis was placed on better positioning! Good positioning is the reason why the good guys make it look “easy” and it is what is required to be successful at the advanced level. Thus, it is wise to take the time to cement a foundation of consistently flying straight lines back and forth parallel with the runway before attempting inverted flight.















Debra Cleghorn, Featured News, Fixed-Wing Flight School

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12 Responses to “Secrets to Inverted Flight”

  1. Norman Vincelette says:

    Very good info for a new RC pilot. Thanks, will try inverted this weekend.

  2. Gregorio Dunayevich says:

    Me too!! I´m new at this topic, thanks Greg

  3. skydvejam says:

    Wish I would have had this when I was starting to work inverted. Granted it is my first flying season but I am now working on inverted flat spins, fun just pulling out of them inverted is still a bit of a challenge for me.

  4. ken falco says:

    Great info. Will follow your advice. Here in the Philippines we are sometimes on our own and really thankful for your help. Antipolo, Rizal.

  5. Don says:

    I flew control line before I flew radio and I used a principle from my control line days to help in R/C. Since you can’t roll a CL model, you have to either loop into inverted or do a wingover pulling out inverted. I learded to fly inverted by doing figure 8′s were I would make them longer and longer until I was lapping inverted. This same principle can be applied to R/C. Rolling to inverted is preferrable but, can for some cause problem in itself since they are working to get wings level along with remembering to push the stick forward. Most pilots can do a simple loop so working into a figure 8 and doing inverted there can bring a comfort level to working the elevator much in the same way you would learn on CL. Eventually, the length of the inverted portion will take the length of the field and soon they are turning around to come back instead of completing the outside loop of the figure 8. I’m sure some will take exception to this but, I has worked for many of the people that I have taught to fly over the years and no crashes involved.

  6. sandy says:

    yes, most of the first times are confused on how to get of the inverted, they just try to push the elevator up much further just like when it’s flying normally.But i suggest to never do it while starting because you are at such a low speed and would be at a such high alpha that you will just stall it.

    If you do want to get out like this, you would need to increase the throttle a little.(Try this only after you get all your orientation issues cleared)

  7. Ernie Hoenigmann says:

    When I go inverted I go into a half loop and hold level, then continue the rest of the loop to return to upright. This way throttle is not an issue as with a figure eight’s outside loop portion. Of course I make sure I have enough altitude to complete the maneuver. This works even with a three channel trainer

  8. Les D. says:

    You didn’t mention that rudder is reversed. I guess beginners aren’t using the rudder anyway.

  9. Gary K. says:

    Great comments for us learners! Keep em coming.

  10. Robert V says:

    It also helps to setup your CG correct the first time.

  11. john azzarello says:

    This was good advice. I’ve been flying RC for about 8 years and not once have i tried inverted, even though i know the technique and want to do it. This info was good because now the explanation of doing it right are now even more clearer!

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