Flight Technique: Mastering the 4-point roll

Flight Technique: Mastering the 4-point roll

By Klaus Ronge

Four-point roll

  1. Enter straight and level, full-power roll right
  2. First point; add slight left rudder
  3. Second point; add slight down-elevator
  4. Third point; add slight right rudder
  5. Fourth point; slight up-elevator, exit straight and level


The four-point roll (hesitation roll) is a horizontal roll with a brief hesitation at 90, 180 and 270 degrees. Before you attempt this maneuver, I recommend that you perfect the standard aileron roll by using down-elevator when the plane is inverted. You should be able to do a roll without any altitude loss or heading deviation. It will also help if you can fly knife-edge in both directions.

The roll rate is the same as that of a standard aileron roll. The roll should take roughly five seconds to complete. The hesitations should be very brief; the plane should not fly there for any length of time. Rudder and elevator inputs will be required at each of the points to maintain altitude and heading. For example, a four-point roll to the right will require left rudder in the first knife-edge position, down-elevator during the inverted portion and right rudder at the 270-degree point.

For your first attempts, fly parallel to the flightline, and pull up into a 20- or 30-degree climb at full throttle. Use only the aileron control to perform a roll, and hesitate at each of the four points. You will lose altitude, but you will also get a feel for the rhythm of the control inputs. If you lose a lot of altitude or your heading is way off, your hesitations are too long. Once you are comfortable doing this, it’s time to add the elevator and rudder inputs. This time, when you hesitate at the inverted position, feed in some down-elevator. Work on smoothly adding the elevator input before you reach inverted and smoothly taking it out again so that the plane flies in a straight line. Now we can go back and clean up the first and third points.

Add some opposite rudder to the direction of the roll as you approach the first 90-degree point. If you are rolling to the right, add some left rudder at the 90-degree point and some right rudder at the 270-degree point. If you become confused or lose the plane’s orientation, the best escape route is to continue the roll in the same direction back to level flight. Work on smoothly adding the inputs so that the plane appears to be flying on a wire. When you can fly the four-point roll without any altitude loss, begin the maneuver from level flight.

This takes a lot of practice

Updated: June 16, 2011 — 4:30 PM
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