Here’s how I would define flying “on the step.”

The known definitions for the term flying “on the step” are summarized below:

Flying “on the step” definitions:

"Flying the step" B-24 Pilot Training Manual for the Liberator, published 1945, page 68.
“Flying the step” B-24 Pilot Training Manual for the Liberator, published by Headquarters, AAF, Office of Flying Safety, Winston-Salem, NC, Revised May 1, 1945, p68.
    1. (verb) Getting “on the step” is a term used by the military.  The military citations always involve using momentum from slightly above the selected altitude to accelerate the aircraft and lower the nose into best cruise performance.  The procedure is an assist to formation flying by reducing process variation. The earliest documented origin for the term is found in the B-24 Liberator operating manual circa 1945.
    2. (verb) A procedure used to set an airplane in level flight for best cruise performance. The procedure can be initiated properly from below or from above the selected cruise altitude.  If flown correctly, the final cruise speed is the same regardless of entering the selected altitude from above or from below.
    3. (noun) A condition or state in cruise flight that produces a higher cruise speed which can only be attained through a unique technique. Subject matter experts have asserted it to be a myth or old-timer’s tale.

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