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


A spin may be defined as an aggravated stall that results in what is termed “autorotation” wherein the airplane follows a downward corkscrew path. As the airplane rotates around a vertical axis, the rising wing is less stalled than the descending wing creating a rolling, yawing, and pitching motion. The airplane is basically being forced downward by gravity, rolling, yawing, and pitching in a spiral path. [Figure 4-9]

The autorotation results from an unequal angle of attack on the airplane’s wings. The rising wing has a decreasing angle of attack, where the relative lift increases and the drag decreases. In effect, this wing is less stalled. Meanwhile, the descending wing has an

Spin—an aggravated stall and autorotation

Figure 4-9. Spin—an aggravated stall and autorotation.

increasing angle of attack, past the wing’s critical angle of attack (stall) where the relative lift decreases and drag increases.

A spin is caused when the airplane’s wing exceeds its critical angle of attack (stall) with a sideslip or yaw acting on the airplane at, or beyond, the actual stall. During this uncoordinated maneuver, a pilot may not be aware that a critical angle of attack has been exceeded until the airplane yaws out of control toward the lowering wing. If stall recovery is not initiated immediately, the airplane may enter a spin.

If this stall occurs while the airplane is in a slipping or skidding turn, this can result in a spin entry and rotation in the direction that the rudder is being applied, regardless of which wingtip is raised.

Many airplanes have to be forced to spin and require considerable judgment and technique to get the spin started. These same airplanes that have to be forced to spin, may be accidentally put into a spin by mishandling the controls in turns, stalls, and flight at minimum controllable airspeeds. This fact is additional evidence of the necessity for the practice of stalls until the ability to recognize and recover from them is developed.

Often a wing will drop at the beginning of a stall. When this happens, the nose will attempt to move (yaw) in the direction of the low wing. This is where use of the rudder is important during a stall. The correct amount of opposite rudder must be applied to keep the nose from yawing toward the low wing. By maintaining directional control and not allowing the nose to yaw toward the low wing, before stall recovery is initiated, a spin will be averted. If the nose is allowed to yaw during the stall, the airplane will begin to slip in the direction of the lowered wing, and will enter a spin. An airplane must be stalled in order to enter a spin; therefore, continued practice in stalls will help the pilot develop a more instinctive and prompt reaction in recognizing an approaching spin. It is essential to learn to apply immediate corrective action any time it is apparent that the airplane is nearing spin conditions. If it is impossible to avoid a spin, the pilot should immediately execute spin recovery procedures.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication