When we hear about a "g", if I am not mistaken, one "g" is an equivalent force to that which is experienced when we are standing at sea level. So what does it mean if a plane maintains a positive g loading and vice versa when a plane maintains a negative g loading along with how it feels to someone inside.

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    $\begingroup$ Google "707 barrel roll" for what can be done while maintaining 1 g positive loading... $\endgroup$
    – DJohnM
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Put something on the top of the instrument panel of a shape that it won't shift from side to side. If it doesn't float off vertically, you are maintaining a positive g loading. Now, making sure your seatbelt is firmly around you, push over until that object floats off the instrument panel. You have now experienced a negative g loading. My kids used to refer to the maneuver as "doing humps." $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 16:34

2 Answers 2


Short Answer

In straight and level flight, it means don't push over too fast. Doing so gets you "light in the seat" and things may fly about the cockpit/cabin. In some aircraft, negative "g" can make the oil "flow up" away from the sump and begin to starve your engine of much needed lubrication. (Example: T-34C, trainer, limited to 10 seconds inverted flight. Straight and Level inverted flight is -1 "g.")

More Answer

You want to avoid flying with negative "g" in a variety of circumstances, depending upon how the aircraft is designed.

  • Example: In a helicopter, negative "g" can have dire consequences. On the teetering, semi rigid rotor heads in the original Huey, for example, unloading the head can lead to mast bumping, which can lead to catastrophic failure of the mast, and then some death.
  • Counter Example: Flying a Pitts Special, or an F-18, the aircraft is built to withstand some negative "g" due to their needing to fly particular maneuvers.

"G" is a natural part of flying, but "how much" varies with design.

Whenever you turn the aircraft, you will add a little bit of "g" load since "g" is a measure of acceleration. Vector sums based on angle of bank will tell you how much "g" you can expect in a level turn at constant speed.

  • Example: a 60 degree angle of bank adds an additional "g" compared to level flight, and you feel a bit of a push into your seat.

An item inside the plane that is not attached will accelerate towards the

  • floor during positive g
  • ceiling during negative g

The item will seem to float at zero g.

Note that during inverted flight the floor is up, and the ceiling is down.


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