What’s this Chandelier Maneuver All About?

Its pronounced shan-dells….and it stems from an old warbird maneuver dating back to the first and second world wars.  The premise behind the maneuver is to make a full power, constant RATE 180 degree turn while climbing, and finish the turn at or very near stalling speed for the airplane being flown.  Ignore whatever you read on Google about Chandelles.  The ACS specifies exactly how they want you to perform them for the examiner.  There are lots of interpretations from the old timers about how chandelles used to be or “should be” flown.  This is all baloney as far as you’re concerned, you only care about how the FAA wants you to fly the maneuver to pass the checkride, and that’s exactly what we will tell you about below.

how to do a chandelle

How is a chandelle done per the ACS?

Regardless of the airplane the maneuver is flown in, it will always be performed the same (and only the airspeed and control inputs needed will vary).  As we talk about this manuever, don’t get confused between the degrees of the maneuver and the degrees of pitch and bank angle.  Remember 90 degrees through the maneuver is halfway, 180 degrees through the maneuver is the end.

To start the maneuver:

  • Clear the area and accomplish any checklists the airplane requires prior to performing maneuvers.
  • Fly the airplane in level flight at or below maneuvering speed for the weight of the aircraft that day.
  • Establish yourself on a reference heading (a direction you can easily find the 180 degree reciprocal of)
  • Apply Full Power (prop and power full forward)
  • Immediately roll into a 30 degree bank angle
  • Smoothly pitch up to a predetermined angle of pitch (roughly 15 degrees for most GA airplanes).  Maximum pitch is attained at the 90 degree point of the maneuver.
  • Stay coordinated and maintain the constant BANK climbing turn to the 90 degree point
  • From 91-180 degrees of this maneuver, you will slowly shallow the bank angle back towards wings level (using a CONSTANT RATE of roll), while maintaining constant pitch (whatever pitch attitude you had at 90 degrees you must hold all the way around to 180 degrees).
  • At 180 degrees (the end of the maneuver), you should be back to wings level, holding that same nose high attitude (constant pitch you had from back at the 90 degree point), you will be right near stall speed, and expected to recover at the altitude you end the maneuver at.
  • To Recover, you want to just barely lower the nose to allow the airplane to accelerate and work its way away from the backside of the power curve (MAINTAIN COORDINATION throughout the entire maneuver and recovery, USE RUDDER for left turning tendencies!).
  • As you let the nose down slightly, you will pick up speed while maintaining or giving up minimum altitude.  As you accelerate you will generate more lift and can continue lowering the nose while you accelerate, reduce right rudder pressure, and recover back to cruise speed at the same altitude you ended the maneuver at.

Common Errors

  • Not using proper RUDDER inputs to stay coordinated (keep the ball in the center)
  • Not holding constant PITCH on the second half (91-180 degrees) of the maneuver
  • Rolling back to wings level before you reach 180 degrees (or rolling out to quickly and not being able to maintain a CONSTANT RATE of roll back to wings level).
  • Climbing as you recover from the maneuver instead of using trim and forward pressure to maintain altitude.

Completion Standards

The ACS only specifies Heading +/- 10 degrees, and minimum loss of altitude on recovery.  We’ll go ahead and give you some tighter standards that the Examiner is likely to be using to judge you on this:

  • Heading +/- 10 degrees
  • Bank +/- 5 degrees
  • Pitch +/- 3 degrees
  • Airspeed + 5knots / -0 knots
  • Altitude on recovery +/- 100′
  • Must begin maneuver above 1,500′ agl
  • Must Not exceed Maneuvering Speed