Chapter 4—Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins

Table of Contents
Slow Flight
    Flight at Less than Cruise Airspeeds
    Flight at Minimum Controllable Airspeed
    Recognition of Stalls
    Fundamentals of Stall Recovery
    Use of Ailerons/Rudder in Stall Recovery
    Stall Characteristics
    Approaches to Stalls (Imminent Stalls)—Power-On or Power-Off
    Full Stalls Power-Off
    Full Stalls Power-On
    Secondary Stall
    Accelerated Stalls
    Cross-Control Stall
    Elevator Trim Stall
    Spin Procedures
        Entry Phase
        Incipient Phase
        Developed Phase
        Recovery Phase
Intentional Spins
    Weight and Balance Requirements


The objective of a cross-control stall demonstration maneuver is to show the effect of improper control technique and to emphasize the importance of using coordinated control pressures whenever making turns. This type of stall occurs with the controls crossed— aileron pressure applied in one direction and rudder pressure in the opposite direction.

In addition, when excessive back-elevator pressure is applied, a cross-control stall may result. This is a stall that is most apt to occur during a poorly planned and executed base-to-final approach turn, and often is the result of overshooting the centerline of the runway during that turn. Normally, the proper action to correct for overshooting the runway is to increase the rate of turn by using coordinated aileron and rudder. At the relatively low altitude of a base-to-final approach turn, improperly trained pilots may be apprehensive of steepening the bank to increase the rate of turn, and rather than steepening the bank, they hold the bank constant and attempt to increase the rate of turn by adding more rudder pressure in an effort to align it with the runway.

The addition of inside rudder pressure will cause the speed of the outer wing to increase, therefore, creating greater lift on that wing. To keep that wing from rising and to maintain a constant angle of bank, opposite aileron pressure needs to be applied. The added inside rudder pressure will also cause the nose to lower in relation to the horizon. Consequently, additional back-elevator pressure would be required to maintain a constant-pitch attitude. The resulting condition is a turn with rudder applied in one direction, aileron in the opposite direction, and excessive back-elevator pressure—a pronounced cross-control condition.

Since the airplane is in a skidding turn during the cross-control condition, the wing on the outside of the turn speeds up and produces more lift than the inside wing; thus, the airplane starts to increase its bank. The down aileron on the inside of the turn helps drag that wing back, slowing it up and decreasing its lift, which requires more aileron application. This further causes the airplane to roll. The roll may be so fast that it is possible the bank will be vertical or past vertical before it can be stopped.

For the demonstration of the maneuver, it is important that it be entered at a safe altitude because of the possible extreme nosedown attitude and loss of altitude that may result.

Before demonstrating this stall, the pilot should clear the area for other air traffic while slowly retarding the throttle. Then the landing gear (if retractable gear) should be lowered, the throttle closed, and the altitude maintained until the airspeed approaches the normal glide speed. Because of the possibility of exceeding the airplane’s limitations, flaps should not be extended. While the gliding attitude and airspeed are being established, the airplane should be retrimmed. When the glide is stabilized, the airplane should be rolled into a medium-banked turn to simulate a final approach turn that would overshoot the centerline of the runway.

During the turn, excessive rudder pressure should be applied in the direction of the turn but the bank held constant by applying opposite aileron pressure. At the same time, increased back-elevator pressure is required to keep the nose from lowering.

All of these control pressures should be increased until the airplane stalls. When the stall occurs, recovery is made by releasing the control pressures and increasing power as necessary to recover.

In a cross-control stall, the airplane often stalls with little warning. The nose may pitch down, the inside wing may suddenly drop, and the airplane may continue to roll to an inverted position. This is usually the beginning of a spin. It is obvious that close to the ground is no place to allow this to happen.

Recovery must be made before the airplane enters an abnormal attitude (vertical spiral or spin); it is a simple matter to return to straight-and-level flight by coordinated use of the controls. The pilot must be able to recognize when this stall is imminent and must take immediate action to prevent a completely stalled condition. It is imperative that this type of stall not occur during an actual approach to a landing, since recovery may be impossible prior to ground contact due to the low altitude.

The flight instructor should be aware that during traffic pattern operations, any conditions that result in overshooting the turn from base leg to final approach, dramatically increases the possibility of an unintentional accelerated stall while the airplane is in a cross-control condition.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication