The fear of low-speed flying

Rick Beach has recently written a post on the Cirrus Owners & Pilots Association’s (COPA) website about having attended a recent SAFE symposium where John King presented his counter intuitive thinking regarding low speed flying. To first put things in perspective, Rick wrote that Cirrus instructors tend to teach Cirrus pilots to land too fast as the fear of tail strikes means that many pilots are afraid of landing too slow.

Rick then pointed out a slide that John presented with the following contents:

    • One-third of all fatalities come from stalls/spins while maneuvering
    • So therefore we should tell pilots to slow down when maneuvering

John then made the point that most people think that stalls or spins are the results of flying too slow when they may in fact be caused by flying too fast. John also pointed out in his presentation that flight instructors are often afraid that their students will stall and hence they have them fly too fast. This leads to huge patterns, steeper banks and more load factor.

Rick then added that what surprised him were the possible consequences of flying too fast while in the traffic pattern plus he wrote:

Sure, we have debated the landing speeds being too high. But wow, the impact on load factor and stall speed in a high-speed base-to-final turn may well be a crucial insight into several Cirrus fatal accidents…

Hence, Rick’s question is whether or not flying too fast while maneuvering might have been the common factor in the Cirrus accidents he went on to mention.

Rick ended his post by concluding that Cirrus pilots should go up with an experienced Cirrus instructor and then “explore the differences between stalls in turns at different airspeeds” and to not be afraid of flying slower.

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One Response to The fear of low-speed flying

  1. Pete Zaitcev May 12, 2011 at 21:02 #

    Nothing of this makes Cirrus' tail any higher, so they have to continue to make flat approaches anyway.

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