Gyroscopic Precession

As Dr. Newman has demonstrated in class, gyroscopes exhibit interesting behavior while they are spinning, with one of the most visually impressive demonstrations being its ability to seemingly balance on point that is far from its center of mass:

                               Demo Of Gyroscopic Precession

This gyroscope is demonstrating a force generated through gyroscopic precession.
(Photo: University Of Colorado Physics Labs,

The concept behind this behavior is that of gyroscopic precession. The outward effect of gyroscopic precession is that a force applied to a moving gyroscope on the edge (as if you were to push on it with a frictionless hand) results in a force 90° away from the point where you pushed in the direction of rotation.

So... How Is That A Left Turning Tendency?

Gyroscopic precession is unique among the "left turning tendencies" because is is not always causing the airplane to turn left. In fact, most of the time it causes no turning of the airplane at all, and it can even cause turning in another direction depending on which direction the force was applied! Later, when we analyze the hammerhead aerobatic maneuver, we will see how gyroscopic precession causes an upward turning force.