We all know flyinat 1,000 AGL in a piston driven single is a bad place when the engine fails. All pilots should be able to lose the engine in the traffic pattern, and safely land at the airport. This may mean landing on a less favorable runway or adjusting the traffic pattern to ensure a safe landing on the favorable runway.
The power-off 180 is a great training task to demonstrate good judgment and aircraft control in a pattern engine out scenario. It is required by the commercial ACS for ASEL and ASES applicants, and I require all private students do one or two prior to solo as part of simulated emergency landings. It is a practical application for engine failures low to the ground, specifically the pattern.
In short, the task requires the pilot to pull power to idle abeam the landing point, pitch for Vg or 1.4x Vso, and adjust the base and final turns (180o) to allow the aircraft to glide from pattern altitude to the landing point without adding power. Add flaps when landing is assured.
This maneuver helps demonstrate your mastery of the aircraft, and helps ensure you are ready if you lose your engine in the pattern. They are also fun, especially when you are flying something that sinks like a rock when you pull the power to idle. Ask to do one on your next flight review as part of the engine failure regime, or grab a CFI and go for a ride.
Next time: Night landings without landing lights