During which flight regime is maximum side slip needed (apart from take-off and landings in cross winds)? I have learned that during a knife edge maneuver, the side slip angle plays a crucial role in maintaining the flight path angle.

  • What is the maximum side slip angle that can be achieved by an F-16?
  • And if possible, how does the F-16 compare to other planes of different roles?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as too broad: side slip angles vary a lot depending on airframe design. We cannot answer for general aviation and civilian planes. You may wish to limit your scope to, let say, civilian aerobatic aircrafts only. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Mar 2, 2017 at 13:44
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @kevin If we take off the last sentence and go with the F-16 in the title it should be focused enough. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Mar 2, 2017 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that the sideslipping technique would be used in crosswing landings in a jet like the F-16. Of course whenever the wheels are on the ground, if the jet is continuing to travel down the runway centerline in the presence of a crosswind, then some sideslip could be said to be happening, but I suspect the question is meant to ask about in flight. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2021 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


Knife-edge flight is an aerobatic maneuver where an airplane is flying on its side for an extended period of time without ascending or descending.

Notice it says aerobatic, i.e. for show. There is no point doing it on a mission (or otherwise) in an F-16.

Spoiler: it can't be flown in an F-16.

The flight control computer (FLCC) of the F-16 further incorporates limiters governing movement in the three main axes based on attitude, airspeed and angle of attack (AOA); these prevent control surfaces from inducing instability such as slips or skids, or a high AOA inducing a stall. The limiters also prevent maneuvers that would exert more than a 9 g load.


One source mentions 10° of beta (sideslip angle) as an extreme and unusual for an F-16.

Departure from controlled flight / Rudder input

The Aileron Rudder Interconnect (ARI) automatically provides rudder input according to pilot roll input to reduce sideslip during turns. Pilot induced rudder does not improve turn performance but increases departure possibility.


Since the rudder is mostly controlled in flight by the FLCS through the ARI (Aileron Rudder Interconnect) the pilot should in theory have no need to use the rudder in flight. To prevent pilot induced rudder movement which can create adverse effects the FLCS automatically limits its use. Rudder authority is reduced as a function of AOA, roll rate and CAT config to prevent departure from controlled flight.

BMS manual

Note: Crosswind crabbed flight is not a sideslip. The flight is coordinated (ball centered). Since the wind pushes the plane off track, the pilot corrects by pointing into the wind, that's all.

Just as tailwind or headwind has no effect on the flight dynamics, so is the crosswind. A plane flies inside a mass of air, if the mass of air happens to be moving, it only affects the navigation (where the plane is actually going, and how fast/slow).

  • $\begingroup$ > Crosswind crabbed flight is not a sideslip ... but a sideslip is generated in the de-crab maneuver so it is correct to mention crosswind landing as a condition where sideslip is required. The pilot may also perform a wing down approach in a crosswind, which is also a sideslipping maneuver. $\endgroup$
    – bob
    Feb 8, 2021 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ Re knife-edge flight -- "Spoiler: it can't be flown in an F-16."-- but-- what about the Thunderbirds? Grounds for a new ASE question here? $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2021 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer: Using the same definition in the answer, show me that Thunderbirds routine o_0 $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Feb 8, 2021 at 15:03

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