Turn-and-Slip vs. Turn Coordinator

A special supplement to Mike Busch's "Ode to the Needle-and-Ball" from IFR Magazine.


When the factory-installed turn-and-slip instrument in my Cessna 310 took a dive some years ago, I decided to replace it with a turn coordinator. It didn’t take me long to discover that I hated it.

My biggest gripe with the new TC was that its slip-skid indicator (the ball) was much smaller and mounted much lower on the instrument face than it had been on the older turn-and-slip instrument. At night, the two post lights mounted in the two upper corners of the instrument would illuminate the little airplane just fine, but the ball was down in a “black hole” that I could only read by whipping out my mini-Maglite.

Since the turn gyro is mostly used for backup but the slip-skid ball is used constantly on every flight (to adjust rudder trim), I found this deficiency to be absolutely intolerable. Bottom line: I tore out the TC and installed another traditional turn-and-slip instrument. The TC now graces a knick-knack shelf at home.

If your autopilot requires a TC to function, you’re pretty well stuck with it. If it doesn’t, you might decide that an old-fashioned T&S is the better choice for your panel.