Aerobatic Practice and Camera Test

After several weeks away from flying aerobatics, I took the Extra 300L up for practice and to check out the new camera position at the left wingtip. Keen observers will note bobbles on the rolls and other flaws, but that’s why we practice. As you can see, it was a lovely day to fly over the desert southeast of Las Vegas.

Incipient, Upright, and Inverted Spins

Here’s a quick demonstration of incipient spins from skidding and slipping turns, plus a classic spin from a slow-deceleration stall. Finally, I show an inverted spin. This video features views from both the left wingtip and the pilot’s perspective.

For more information, see my stall/spin page at

Aerobatic Practice from New Point of View

Highlights from a recent practice flight in the Extra 300L out of its winter base, Boulder City, NV (KBVU). This video features views from the left wingtip of the aircraft, and I tried to announce and describe most maneuvers from the cockpit. I show each of the outside-snap series from knife-edge twice, once from the wingtip, then from the cockpit. That maneuver is not quite a complete tumble, but it’s a good ride.

When a VOR is Decommissioned

The recent shutdown of the Lake Henry VOR (LHY), which lies northeast of Wilkes-Barre PA (VFR chart at SkyVector here), is an example of how the FAA is handling the gradual decommissioning of VORs. (See also More Details about VOR Shutdowns)

As the latest IFR low-altitude en route charts show, the VOR (at present still depicted on the charts to help pilots become familiar with the new routes) has been replaced by a five-letter waypoint, LAAYK.


Note that the frequency for the VOR (110.8) is now shaded to indicate that the facility has been shut down, as described on p. 54 of the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide.


A wider view of the area shows that several victor airways or segments of airways have been replaced with T-routes, depicted in blue on charts published by the FAA.


T-routes and their associated G (GPS-based) MEAs are described in AIM 5−3−4. Airways and Route Systems and in “Area Naviation (RNAV) ‘T’ Route System” on page 56 of the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide (12th edition).

You can expect similar changes as more VORs are shut down over the next several years, leaving what the FAA calls the Minimum Operational Network. That plan at present calls for all VORs in the mountainous regions (essentially the western U.S.) to remain online, while many VORs elsewhere in the country are decommissioned.

The Secret Language of the Skies

Deborah Fallows, a linguist who is flying around the U.S. in a small general aviation aircraft with her journalist husband James Fallows, has posted another installment in her blog: ITAWT ITAWA PUDYE TTATT: The Secret Language of the Skies. It’s a fun read.

Logging Flight Time

Arguments about who can log what type of flying time generate more discussion and misinformation than any other topic in aviation.

If you wonder about who can log pilot-in-command time (PIC) and second-in-command time (SIC), and if you don’t understand the key distinction between acting as PIC as logging PIC time, I strongly recommend visiting Logbooks and Logging Time at AOPA (you may need to be an AOPA member to access the page).

That page includes a discussion of the FARs, many common scenarios that spark debate, and links to additional resources that can help pilots and CFIs fill out their logbooks correctly and ensure that they meet the requirements for certificates and ratings and recent experience.

For more information about how flight instructors can log instrument approaches in IMC, see
Logging Instrument Approaches as a Flight Instructor here at BruceAir.

To read the FAA’s interpretations on the relevant regulations, visit and read the letters of interpretation on this topic from the office of the chief counsel, here.

Good examples of these letters include:

By the way, the AOPA page also discusses electronic logbooks. The FAA has issued an advisory circular (AC 120-78: Acceptance and Use of Electronic Signatures, Electronic Recordkeeping Systems, and Electronic Manuals) that provides guidance for pilots, maintenance technicians, and others who must keep records required by the FARs.

Short Bonanza Flight: KBFI-KAWO

Here’s an experiment mixing two views during a short flight in the Bonanza from KBFI to KAWO. One camera is aimed over the nose for the outside view; the other camera is trained on the instrument panel. I flew the RNAV (GPS) Rwy 34 approach at KAWO under VFR to see how the camera views worked out. You will notice a rattling noise on the soundtrack, and the panel video vibrates at times. I need to adjust the camera mount(s). But I plan to use a setup like this for a series of demonstration videos for Bonanza pilots.

For more information about the equipment I use to record aviation videos, see Aviation Video Tips here at my blog.

PC Simulation Presentation at AOPA Summit

PC Simulation Presentation at AOPA Summit

Here’s a short news item about my presentations at the recent AOPA Summit in Ft. Worth.

Simulator expert Bruce Williams

New Edition of FAA Glider Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-13A)

The FAA has published a new edition of the Glider Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-13A). You can download the free PDF from the preceding link. Even if you’re not a glider (sailplane) pilot, it’s helpful to review this handbook. You can learn about why and how gliders they fly as they do, and better understand the procedures that sailplane pilots use.


Videos: Stalls, Incipient Spins, and Recoveries from Inverted

Here’s a series of short videos captured during training for one of my customers last summer. They show a typical initial sequence in the stall/spin/upset recovery course that I offer to pilots of all experience levels in the Extra 300L.

After flying out to the practice area and warming up with steep turns to help the front-seat student get a feel for the Extra 300L, we begin with normal, slow-deceleration, wings-level stalls.
>Basic Slow Deceleration, Wings-Level Stalls

When I introduce stalls in any airplane, I like to follow the guidance in Chapter 4: Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins of the Airplane Flying Handbook:

Usually, the first few practices should include only approaches to stalls, with recovery initiated as soon as the first buffeting or partial loss of control is noted. In this way, the pilot can become familiar with the indications of an approaching stall without actually stalling the airplane. Once the pilot becomes comfortable with this procedure, the airplane should be slowed in such a manner that it stalls in as near a level pitch attitude as is possible. The student pilot must not be allowed to form the impression that in all circumstances, a high pitch attitude is necessary to exceed the critical angle of attack, or that in all circumstances, a level or near level pitch attitude is indicative of a low angle of attack. Recovery should be practiced first without the addition of power, by merely relieving enough back-elevator pressure that the stall is broken and the airplane assumes a normal glide attitude. The instructor should also introduce the student to a secondary stall at this point. Stall recoveries should then be practiced with the addition of power to determine how effective power will be in executing a safe recovery and minimizing altitude loss. (AFH p. 4-5)

Accelerated (Turning) Stalls

Next, we fly a series of stalls while making coordinated turns. As the Airplane Flying Handbook notes:

An airplane will stall during a coordinated steep turn exactly as it does from straight flight, except that the pitching and rolling actions tend to be more sudden…The objectives are to determine the stall characteristics of the airplane and develop the ability to instinctively recover at the onset of a stall at other-than-normal stall speed or flight attitudes. An accelerated stall, although usually demonstrated in steep turns, may actually be encountered any time excessive back-elevator pressure is applied and/or the angle of attack is increased too rapidly…When the airplane stalls, recovery should be made promptly, by releasing sufficient back-elevator pressure and increasing power to reduce the angle of attack. If an uncoordinated turn is made, one wing may tend to drop suddenly, causing the airplane to roll in that direction. If this occurs, the excessive back elevator pressure must be released, power added, and the airplane returned to straight-and-level flight with coordinated control pressure. (AFH, p. 4-9—4-10)

I have my students fly coordinated stalls out of left and right turns, and just as during the basic stall practice, we recover by reducing angle of attack. Initially, we leave the power at a typical approach setting and we fly through at least 90 degrees of turn doing a series of secondary stalls while maintaining the bank angle. This exercise increases students’ confidence and helps them understand the importance of maintaining coordinated flight.

Skidding Stalls and Incipient Spins

After practicing stalls in coordinated turns, we move on to skidding and slipping stalls, emphasizing skidding stalls, which are the classic setup for an incipient spin. In general, these stalls are called cross-control stalls; you can read about them starting on p. 4-10 of the Airplane Flying Handbook.

The Extra 300L is an excellent platform for exploring skidding and slipping stalls because it’s fully aerobatic and approved for spins. As you can see in the video, I encourage students to let the stall develop so that they can see the effects of stalling while in a skidding turn.

Now, it’s true, as the student comments, that the Extra snaps right over to inverted or near-inverted when the wings stall out of a skid. But as I note in the video, even a tame Cessna 172 or Piper Warrior will yaw and roll aggressively if provoked into a skidding stall.

Recoveries from Inverted

My course also includes practice recovering from inverted or overbanked flight. The key lesson is to roll back toward wings level. Many pilots, disoriented by their first experience of inverted flight, try to pull back to upright flight (a split-S), which typically results in excessive airspeed, eats up a lot of altitude, and imposes excessive G-loads.

Recoveries from Rolling Upsets

Here’s an exercise that I have my upset-recovery customers perform to simulate a wake turbulence encounter or overbank/inverted attitude that might result from disorientation in poor visibility.

I have them fly one-and-a-half aileron rolls from upright to inverted and then recover. They key is to unload and, using rudder and aileron, roll the airplane back to wings-level, upright flight. It’s important to resist the urge to pull through (split-S), which rapidly increases airspeed eats up altitude, and typically leads to high-G loads during the recovery.

This customer resisted that urge and rolled upright, but we still lost about 1,000 ft., and the final airspeed was around 160 KIAS.

Spin Practice

Here’s one of my stall/spin/upset recovery customers flying his first spins. You can read more about spins at my website.