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.