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Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:30 pm
by Kanuck
Hi gents!

As you may be aware, spin training is a mandatory feature in private pilot training in Canada (Transport Canada Flight Training Exercise #13). Although it's part of the training, it isn't part of the flight examination/test.

My instructor demonstrated a spin to me on Thursday, and it scared the be-jeepers out of me when the plane (172M, in the 'utility' category envelope) flipped over and started spinning toward the ground. The last thing I want to see is that much ground in my windscreen without a runway in the middle of it. We initiated and recovered a few thousand feet AGL, but it was rattling to say the least.

Many say that spin training is somewhat pointless since most spins occur in the circuit, close to the ground, and usually too close to possibly recover unscathed.

I know that spin training isn't part of the US private pilot training. What are your thoughts on spin training?

Student Pilot
Calgary, Alberta

Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:44 am
by t0r0nad0
Hey Keith,

You're right, it is no longer a requirement in the US Private Pilot syllabus, but it is for the CFI. They found that more people were being killed in spin training accidents than were being killed by actual spins. That said, I have never put a plane in a fully-developed spin. I have, however done a 135-deg turn to the left the first time I did a power-on stall and didn't use enough right rudder. I think that this is a contributing factor to why power-on stalls still give me the willies. I do plan on going up with an aerobatic instructor in an aerobatic airplane and doing some spin training, just so I'm more comfortable with them and can practice the technique for getting out of them.

I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on the subject too.

Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:52 am
by champguy
The history of spin training bending more planes than accidental spins is instructive. However screw ups on approach and departure, along with the inevitable "hey, look at me while I do dumb shit" are too close to the ground for recovery. Any training in the feel and behavior of the plane you are flying, loaded the way you will be flying it, on the edge of stall could help if forced to push the edge of the envelope.
You want to feel something spookie, load up your plane for a cross country with the CG way back there for a nice comfortable cruise, then slow way down on short final for a short strip, in the mountains, in the afternoon heat. That's three strikes if anyone is counting. Now you need forward pressure, not back pressure on the stick, just the right amount of power, and the only thing keeping the plane upright is the rudder. The POH isn't going to help on the ragged edge, only knowing the feel of the plane and the feedback it gives as you go over the edge.
That means training by a qualified instructor weather for aerobatic maneauvers, mountain flying, or simply for emergencys at the home field.
Get the training and get it done safely.

Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:44 pm
by PilotBrad
I think spin or upset recovery training is a great idea and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

That being said, you need to go into it with the understanding that it won’t necessarily teach you how to recover from a spin in YOUR aircraft. It will introduce you to the general rules of spin recovery, of which there are exceptions. More importantly you will be introduced to attitudes that you don’t normally see, so that when and if you do encounter them in your aircraft, it’s not the first time.

If you just want to get introduced to spins and you aren’t concerned about learning aerobatics, I might suggest doing it in something like a Citabria or Decathlon. Training in a Pitts or Extra is a blast, but quite frankly IMHO they are just too easy to get into and out of spins (normal upright spins). You might come away with a false sense of security thinking, “That was easy, I just stomped on the rudder and the spin stopped.” Your normal GA aircraft won’t have the same rudder authority and will not stop spinning so quickly. The Citabria or Decathlon, while both competent aerobatic aircraft, are a bit heavier on the controls and will more closely simulate the feel of a typical GA aircraft. I am not an instructor and I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night so this is just my $.02.

Whatever you do, as Champguy said, do it with a qualified and experienced instructor. You can find a list of aerobatic flight schools here.

Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:40 am
by Dave Higdon
Good string, folks, really good...and good points across the board...

My two cents worth: Believe pilots should absolutely seek out some instruction on spins, avoidance of and recovery from -- it's just good exposure to have and greatly improves a pilot's ability to recognize the approach of a spin-inducing attitude and avoid it...or, to at least have a chance in hell of recovery if one begins.

It's been a lot longer since my intro to spins than it's been since the last time an aircraft -- one not approved for spins -- gave me a nice surprise and started a spin...and, most interesting of all (at least for me, after my recovery) was knowing that I had not cross-controlled the airplane in a way that would normally induce a spin. It was merely a full-flaps, ball-centered, power-at-idle stall -- and the right wing headed downward...

Without starting a debate on whether the airplane was correctly rigged or poorly designed or anything like that, looking for little surprise traits like that goes with my work producing pilot reports...I am not a *test pilot* and don't consider myself anything more than an average pilot with above-average time and access...

So learning how an airplane responds to *normal* maneuvers is SOP for me -- and when that *normal* maneuver rewards me with a surprise I can rightly expect other average pilots will encounter, well, then I've done my job.

But recovering from that surprise would not have been as fast, easy or confident had I not received specific spin training all those years ago...


Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:43 pm
by Kanuck
So survey says... get spin training with a qualified instructor. I agree, albeit an un-nerving experience! :D

I also agree that pilots should know the behaviours of their plane within and at the edge of the performance envelope. And as Dave experienced, the legitimate edge of the envelope may hold some surprises. To be ill prepared for that surprise seems unnecessary and potentially fatal.

I wonder why the FAA begs to differ on the value of spin training at the private pilot level? Perhaps accidental spins don't weigh as heavily on their conscience as intentional spins gone awry in their training syllabus. Accidental spins are the pilot's problem, where spin fatalities during training could/did implicate the FAA. Perhaps today’s litigious environment has swung the pendulum too far for the wrong reasons... again.

I would be interested in knowing if the combined rate of spin fatalities before spins were eliminated from the training syllabus are any more or less than today. If spin fatalities are up, might the net benefit warrant re-introducing spin training?


Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:29 pm
by champguy
As much as we all dislike noodle necks, I'm sure they did their homework. Teaching stall avoidance caused less bent metal than teaching spins. I'm at over 600 hours now and with qualified help ready to push the envelope a little past the ragged edge. My advice to a newer than me pilot, learn the rules, follow the rules, live to a ripe old age.

Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:25 pm
by Punky
Well - as a Canadian Pilot - I have to tell you - it's really no big deal. ;-)
In fact - after the first time - it's fun.
An accidental spin doesn't necessarily "have" to happen on take off (where the training is quasi-pointless), it can happen to a VFR pilot who is not that great on the instruments who finds himself in piss poor viz and flying by "the seat of his pants", where all the mis-cues will kill said hapless pilot.

There are height limitations of course - some boozo doing a spin at 2000 feet above ground (probably the same CFI who did single engine operations during twin training) is just asking for trouble. Get your butt up there and try it out. Let it do a few spins. Try the left and then the right rudder... see how one speeds up the spin and the other slows it... and then recover with room to spare. Be "one" with the aircraft obi-wan. ;-)

Listen - any additional training someone can get - is worth doing and having.

Now if only I could have convinced my CFI to do that inversion ;-)

Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:53 pm
by viennatech
Having done my initial spin "lesson" in a 172N model (Utility category) it was exciting to see this normally docile and timid aircraft flip over and snarl. I was quite apprehensive the day we went up to do these but my instructor James was daddy cool. "My mother loves spins!" he said as we walked out to verify the aircraft was at half tanks or less. On the climb out I almost felt sick but figured "hey it's one more step closer to solo".

I did a power off stall, then James took the controls. He said, ok the only difference here is that we are going to add a little yaw and bamo! That 172 flipped over on it's back and began a slow arc towards the ground. I didn't have time to be scared, I simply grabbed onto the bottom of my seat and held it while we spun for a couple of turns. A bit of rudder and she popped back upright. James demoed 2 right spins and one to the left. He asked me if I wanted to try one "maybe next time" was my response.

Since then I have not intentionally spun anything but I did have an M model drop a wing during a powered stall and was glad to have the experience under my belt to simply press the rudder and correct.

You guys in the US are missing out on something fun :)

Re: Your Thoughts on Spin Training

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:11 pm
by Kanuck
It was my 3rd lesson with spins today... and I have about 40% of the anxiety I had the first time. The stress keeps comin' down... like the plane. :D

After a couple of incipient spins, we did a couple of fully developed spins today. The wing drop doesn't freak me out near as bad. Now, the only sensation I need to get used to is the positive g's as we pull out of the dive.

I'm not 'comfortable' with them yet, but I am far less rattled than at the beginning!!!

Ya know... I might even like 'em some day. OK, how 'bout tolerate them? ;)

Have a great weekend!!