A test pilot’s view of spin training

Stalls, Spins and Safety

Rob Stapleton of the Alaskan Dispatch’s Bush Pilot blog has recently written about "Stalls, Spins and Safety," a book written by Sammy Mason, a test pilot for Lockheed, that was written in 1982 after a long battle to get the USA’s FAA to re-instate spin training. As Rob noted, Sammy had spent a considerable amount of time testing aircraft such as the T-33, T2V-1 jet trainers and the F-94C fighter and ultimately became Lockheed’s authority on stall/spin testing. Hence, Sammy’s book offers a test pilot’s view of the subject of spins and spin training and as rob noted, its a “fascinating mix of aeronautical knowledge and practical examples.”

In his post, Rob pointed out that:

Mason states that spins can and do occur in everyday flying. "Although most stall/spin accidents are not the result of situations as dramatic as bursting balloons, they occur more frequently than they should, and from everyday flight situations common to normal aircraft utilization," according to Mason.

In other words, cross-controlled flight at slow speed or using ailerons to straighten the wings during a stall can contribute to a stall/spin scenario.

Mason goes on to say that while flying at minimum speed a pilot may be required to make a sudden pull-up, steep turn, or a combination of both to avoid other traffic while on final approach.

Rob then noted that there has been an upswing in the number Alaska accidents that included flight instructors and an upswing in loss-of-control accidents during the takeoff and landing portions of a flight. However, he also wrote that some Alaskan instructors are still a bit queasy about spinning an aircraft with a student in it and currently students and instructors are only required to “recognize and recover from a spin entry — not perform a full-turn spin or more.” On the other hand, Rob ended his post by noting that Sammy had concluded:

"Because of a general lack of skill in spin training among flight instructors, I believe the number of spin accidents would increase."

In other words and if you are a student pilot or already an experienced pilot, additional spin training should be something worth considering while Sammy’s book about the subject is well worth reading.

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