The Value of Upset Recovery Training

Mac McClellan recently wrote a provocative article, “Why Upset Training Just Doesn’t Work” for Air Facts, an online aviation journal. Mac was the long-time editor of Flying Magazine. His arguments against URT, however, rang hollow to me and other aerobatic pilots and instructors, and the International Aerobatic Club asked some of us to respond.

My rebuttal, “VALUE OF URT,” is on the IAC website, here. That article includes links to several incidents that support my argument, and to several videos on my YouTube channel that illustrate key points.

A video that demonstrates recoveries from inverted.

I also addressed URT in an article in the November 2017 issue of AOPA Flight Training magazine: The Right Formula.

A Dose of Vitamin G

I recently escaped the gray skies over Seattle and made a quick visit to Boulder City, NV to fly the Extra 300L. Here’s video of one aerobatic session, a warmup to help me reset my personal G-tolerance and practice several basic aerobatic maneuvers.

Aerobatics in a Pretty Sky

Here are clips from a recent aerobatic flight in the Extra 300L. More videos available at my YouTube channel, BruceAirFlying.

Beautiful Day to Fly in Seattle

Here are some excerpts from an aerobatic flight with a German 747 captain who is also an active light aircraft pilot. We explored basic aerobatics on a beautiful late-summer day in Seattle.

Aerobatic Ride on a Summer Morning

Stalls at “Any Attitude, Any Airspeed”

Every pilot learns that a wing can stall “in any attitude and at any airspeed.”

But it’s difficult to demonstrate that principle in a typical training aircraft. This video of an exercise that I do with my stall/spin/upset recovery students shows the value of training in an aerobatic aircraft.

I fly a basic loop, but at several points during the maneuver, I intentionally increase the angle of attack by pulling back abruptly on the stick. Each time I pull, the angle of attack quickly reaches the critical angle of attack, and the airplane shudders in an accelerated stall, regardless of the airplane’s airspeed or pitch attitude relative to the horizon.

In other words, you can change the airplane’s attitude (and its angle of attack) almost instantly, but changing its flight path requires more time. That difference between the attitude and the flight path is angle of attack, and when that angle exceeds the wing’s critical angle of attack, the wing stalls.

It’s also helpful to remember that a loop is just a vertical turn. The same principle applies when you bank the wings and turn an airplane in the horizontal plane. If you pull back on the yoke or stick during a turn, you increase the angle of attack. Pull back too aggressively, and the wing will reach its critical angle of attack and stall, regardless of the indicated airspeed.

Simulated Wake-Turbulence Encounter

I do the exercise below with my stall/spin/upset students to simulate the disorienting effect of a wake-turbulence encounter. We perform 1-1/2 aileron rolls to inverted and then push and roll to recover to normal upright flight. The exercise is confusing at first, and the nose always drops well below the horizon during the “upset.” It’s a great way to help pilots understand what could happen if they were caught in a wintip vortex.

Wake turbulence caused by wingtip vortices is major hazard to small aircraft.

WakeTurbulence

The wingtip vortices are a by-product of lift. You can find detailed information about wake turbulence in FAA Advisory Circular AC 90-23 and in the Aeronautical Information Manual (Chapter 7, Safety of Flight; Section 3, Wake Turbulence).