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 recovery phase occurs when the angle of attack of the wings decreases below the critical angle of attack and autorotation slows. Then the nose steepens and rotation stops. This phase may last for a quarter turn to several turns.

To recover, control inputs are initiated to disrupt the spin equilibrium by stopping the rotation and stall. To accomplish spin recovery, the manufacturer’s


  • Lasts about 4 to 6 seconds in light aircraft.
  • Approximately 2 turns.


  • Airspeed, vertical speed, and rate of rotation are stabilized.
  • Small, training aircraft lose approximately 500 feet per each 3 second turn.


  • Wings regain lift.
  • Training aircraft usually recover in about 1/4 to 1/2 of a turn after antispin inputs are applied.
Spin entry and recovery

Figure 4-10. Spin entry and recovery.

recommended procedures should be followed. In the absence of the manufacturer’s recommended spin recovery procedures and techniques, the following spin recovery procedures are recommended.

Step 1—REDUCE THE POWER (THROTTLE) TO IDLE. Power aggravates the spin characteristics. It usually results in a flatter spin attitude and increased rotation rates.

Step 2—POSITION THE AILERONS TO NEUTRAL. Ailerons may have an adverse effect on spin recovery. Aileron control in the direction of the spin may speed up the rate of rotation and delay the recovery. Aileron control opposite the direction of the spin may cause the down aileron to move the wing deeper into the stall and aggravate the situation. The best procedure is to ensure that the ailerons are neutral.

Step 3—APPLY FULL OPPOSITE RUDDER AGAINST THE ROTATION. Make sure that full (against the stop) opposite rudder has been applied.

Step 4—APPLY A POSITIVE AND BRISK, STRAIGHT FORWARD MOVEMENT OF THE ELEVATOR CONTROL FORWARD OF THE NEUTRAL TO BREAK THE STALL. This should be done immediately after full rudder application. The forceful movement of the elevator will decrease the excessive angle of attack and break the stall. The controls should be held firmly in this position. When the stall is “broken,” the spinning will stop.

Step 5—AFTER SPIN ROTATION STOPS, NEUTRALIZE THE RUDDER. If the rudder is not neutralized at this time, the ensuing increased airspeed acting upon a deflected rudder will cause a yawing or skidding effect.

Slow and overly cautious control movements during spin recovery must be avoided. In certain cases it has been found that such movements result in the airplane continuing to spin indefinitely, even with anti-spin inputs. A brisk and positive technique, on the other hand, results in a more positive spin recovery.

Step 6—BEGIN APPLYING BACK-ELEVATOR PRESSURE TO RAISE THE NOSE TO LEVEL FLIGHT. Caution must be used not to apply excessive back-elevator pressure after the rotation stops. Excessive back-elevator pressure can cause a secondary stall and result in another spin. Care should be taken not to exceed the “G” load limits and airspeed limitations during recovery. If the flaps and/or retractable landing gear are extended prior to the spin, they should be retracted as soon as possible after spin entry.

It is important to remember that the above spin recovery procedures and techniques are recommended for use only in the absence of the manufacturer’s procedures. Before any pilot attempts to begin spin training, that pilot must be familiar with the procedures provided by the manufacturer for spin recovery.

The most common problems in spin recovery include pilot confusion as to the direction of spin rotation and whether the maneuver is a spin versus spiral. If the airspeed is increasing, the airplane is no longer in a spin but in a spiral. In a spin, the airplane is stalled. The indicated airspeed, therefore, should reflect stall speed.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication