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Is it a myth?
If you're talking about seaplanes, no (although I don't have that rating).
If you're talking about climbing above your desired altitude and descending down to seek the optimum angle of attack, yep, it's a myth (Ernest Gann's description of this is the only thing in Fate is the Hunter and The High and the Mighty that I didn't like in either book).
While I agree that getting ''on the step'is a myth, it does appear to add speed to the airplane. Yes, it bleeds off, but usually more slowly than it's gained.
Plus, at least in Fate Is The Hunter Gann, to me, always seemed a little tongue in cheek about that. However, remember, at that time, speed boats were popular, and flying was new and different. Using terms from one in the other may have bred a familiarity that wasn't real, but it sounded good.
Perception is everything!
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