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The previous sections have addressed flying straight-and-level as well as climbs and descents. However, attitude instrument flying is not accomplished solely by flying in a straight line. At some point, the aircraft needs to be turned to maneuver along victor airways, global positioning system (GPS) courses, and instrument approaches. The key to instrument flying is smooth, controlled changes to pitch and bank. Instrument flying should be a slow but deliberate process that takes the pilot from departure airport to destination airport without any radical flight maneuvers.

A turn to specific heading should be made at standard rate. Standard rate is defined as a turning rate of 3 degrees per second, which yields a complete 360° turn in 2 minutes. A turning rate of 3 degrees per second allows for a timely heading change, as well as allowing the pilot sufficient time to cross-check the flight instruments and avoid drastic changes to the aerodynamic forces being exerted on the aircraft. At no time should the aircraft be maneuvered faster than the pilot is comfortable cross-checking the flight instruments. Most autopilots are programmed to turn at standard rate.

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