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.

Upset Recovery Exercises

The video below shows a series of practices I use with students in my stall/spin/upset recovery course. They fly modified barrel rolls to become familiar with all-attitude flying, to fly the airplane through its speed range, and to develop G-awareness. Next, we fly the same maneuver, but we deliberately stall the airplane at the top of the loop/roll, first in coordinated flight, then in skids and slips. These practices show the student what happens during botched maneuvers and they’re also great practice should they ever experience an upset due to wake turbulence, disorientation, or other factors. Students also learn about accelerated stalls in the vertical–the effect of abruptly increasing angle of attack, even when diving toward the ground.

You can find more videos at my YouTube channel, BruceAirFlying. The Stalls and Spins playlist focuses on those exercises.

To learn more about making aviation videos, see Aviation Video Tips.

Changes in Stall/Upset Training

Aviation Week & Space Technology recently published an interesting article about changes in stall/upset training for pilots of transport aircraft. A video complements the story, which emphasizes immediate reduction in angle of attack first—before correcting bank angle or adding power.

The training standards before 2012 unwittingly led to stall recovery success in terms of lost altitude rather than the need to reduce angle of attack and aerodynamic load on the wing by immediately pushing the elevator control forward—the universally accepted solution to stalls that had been ignored in training.

That’s a point I’ve made in several posts here and in the video demonstrations on my YouTube channel (see, for example, this video of stalls in a Beechcraft Bonanza).

A Collection of Stall/Spin Videos

I’ve created a YouTube playlist, Stalls and Spins,  that features videos I recorded while demonstrating a variety of stalls, incipient spins, and spins. Most of the videos were captured while I flew the Extra 300L; a few show stalls in the Beechcraft A36.

You can learn more about the stall/spin/upset training that I offer in the Extra 300L at my website, here

Here’s a video from the playlist:

Stalls from Skidding and Slipping Turns

Accelerated (Turning) Stalls in a Bonanza

Many pilots are uncomfortable with stalls while the wings are banked, typically because they’re concerned that, at the stall, a wing will drop, and the airplane will depart into an incipient spin. In this video, I demonstrate stalls in an A36 Bonanza while banking at 45 and 30 degrees. As you can see, if the turn is coordinated, at the stall, the nose drops toward the horizon, but the bank angle remains essentially constant.

Because the airplane is turning, the stall occurs at an airspeed higher than it does in a straight-ahead, wings-level stall. An airplane in a level turn is accelerating (changing velocity because it’s changing direction), and therefore experiences more than 1G.

As the Airplane Flying Handbook notes:

The airplane will, however, stall at a higher indicated airspeed when excessive maneuvering loads are imposed by steep turns, pull-ups, or other abrupt changes in its flight path. Stalls entered from such flight situations are called “accelerated maneuver stalls,” a term, which has no reference to the airspeeds involved. (Chapter 4: “Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins”)

In non-aerobatic aircraft like the Bonanza, we typically practice accelerated stalls while turning. As I explain, the first step in any stall recovery is reducing angle attack. After the wings are flying again, you can correct the bank and return normal flight.

To learn more about accelerated stalls, see other videos on my YouTube channel, including Accelerated Stalls from Steep Banks and Accelerated Stalls in the Vertical.

Accelerated Stalls in a Bonanza

Accelerated Stalls in the Vertical

Pilots know that you can stall the wing at any airspeed and in any flight attitude. A stall is all about angle of attack. But it’s hard to demonstrate the concept in a typical normal-category airplane. In this video, I show a series of accelerated stalls during loops in the Extra 300L. As you can see, I can change the aircraft’s attitude almost instantly while the airplane continues along its flight path, creating a large angle of attack, and therefore, an aerodynamic stall, even when the airplane is nose-low relative to the horizon and flying well above the normal stall speed.

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 BruceAir.com.