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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: