Load factor is the ratio of lift to weight and can be expressed as:

In straight and level flight, lift is equal to weight – so the load factor is 1.

When a pilot is flying a level turn, the total lift increases in order for the vertical component of lift to remain equal to weight. However as total lift is now greater than weight, the **load factor increases in a turn**.

The aircraft is now creating a greater force perpendicular to the wing (the lift) and the pilot feels this as a force pushing them down into their seat. This is commonly referred to as ‘g-force’.

The load factor can be calculated using the formula:

If a pilot wants to fly a level turn at a bank angle of 45°, the angle of attack will need to increase until 41% more lift is being generated. Since lift has increased by 41% and weight remained the same, the load factor is 1.41 and the aircraft will experience 1.41g.

Increasing the bank angle to 60° requires twice as much lift to be generated. Lift will need to double while weight remains the same, so the load factor will be 2 and the aircraft experiences 2g.

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