Is the “impossible turn” in a single-engine airplane after all possible? Ask a group of pilots and you’ll stoke a passionate debate among opponents and proponents of what is known as the “180-degree turnback” to the departure runway after engine failure on takeoff.
The AOPA Air Safety Institute decided to test the disputed turnback theories, using a Piper PA-18 Super Cub, a Van’s RV-4, a Cessna 172N, and a Beechcraft Bonanza A36. Our study was conducted by highly experienced and proficient pilots flying predetermined profiles in near-perfect conditions. But the different results of turning back to the runway were surprising for each of us flying these profiles. You’ll see why in this Reality Check video.
Special thanks to Neil Doran, Tommy Blake and the staff at MRB for their support and coordination during the production of this video, and to Catherine Cavagnaro, Ace Aerobatic School, for technical consulting.