Pilot's tip of the week

Will Spin Training Really Help?

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Subscriber question:

"This is a question for an instructor who does spin and upset training for pilots: How is spin training likely to help given it might be years between training and an actual spin? Given that you can't spin unless you stall, won't good stall training do the trick?" — Talia T.

Catherine:

“I had an interesting call a number of years ago from a fellow who had done spins and upsets and aerobatics with me. This was years later when he was flying with his family in a high-performance single.

They were flying IFR. They got caught up in a big updraft and he was actually inverted. He called me to tell me that his training kicked in: He pushed; he rolled—to upright. (By the way, that one call was worth every bit of effort it took for me to get my flight instructor certificate.)

So, I would say get a healthy dose of good stall training, but I think it makes sense to do spin training as well. I like to take people over the edge so that they understand what the edge looks like because I really think that when the unknown becomes known, they gain a lot more confidence.

And, of course, we spend a lot of time in my course figuring out how to prevent spins to begin with. For example, I usually start with some uncoordinated stalls so that they see that in a slip, your high wing is going to stall first, and in a skid, your low wing is going to stall first.

The first time we go into it, I just say, “Let the airplane do what it’s gonna do. I just want you to see what happens.” And then on subsequent trials, I wait for the airplane to be on its way into a spin, whether that’s a skid or a slip, and I encourage them to briskly push forward on the yoke or the stick.

And immediately—immediately—the stall is recovered and you get your roll authority back. We spend a good amount of time on prevention, but I really think a feature of a good course is to go into the incipient and developed phase (of a spin) as well. Then you get more confidence knowing what the airplane is going do and I think you’re going to be less likely to freeze in that emergent situation.

Obviously, the more you can do these things, the more it’s going to help you. But I do think even training the once can really help.”

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