Chapter 4—Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins
Table of Contents
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
Approaches to Stalls (Imminent Stalls)—Power-On or Power-Off
Full Stalls Power-Off
Full Stalls Power-On
Elevator Trim Stall
Weight and Balance Requirements
Though the stalls just discussed normally occur at a specific airspeed, the pilot must thoroughly understand that all stalls result solely from attempts to fly at excessively high angles of attack. During flight, the angle of attack of an airplane wing is determined by a number of factors, the most important of which are the airspeed, the gross weight of the airplane, and the load factors imposed by maneuvering.
At the same gross weight, airplane configuration, and power setting, a given airplane will consistently stall at the same indicated airspeed if no acceleration is involved. The airplane will, however, stall at a higher indicated airspeed when excessive maneuvering loads are imposed by steep turns, pull-ups, or other abrupt changes in its flightpath. Stalls entered from such flight situations are called “accelerated maneuver stalls,” a term, which has no reference to the airspeeds involved.
Stalls which result from abrupt maneuvers tend to be more rapid, or severe, than the unaccelerated stalls, and because they occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds, and/or may occur at lower than anticipated pitch attitudes, they may be unexpected by an inexperienced pilot. Failure to take immediate steps toward recovery when an accelerated stall occurs may result in a complete loss of flight control, notably, power-on spins.
This stall should never be practiced with wing flaps in the extended position due to the lower “G” load limitations in that configuration.
Accelerated maneuver stalls should not be performed in any airplane, which is prohibited from such maneuvers by its type certification restrictions or Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) and/or Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH). If they are permitted, they should be performed with a bank of approximately 45°, and in no case at a speed greater than the airplane manufacturer’s recommended airspeeds or the design maneuvering speed specified for the airplane. The design maneuvering speed is the maximum speed at which the airplane can be stalled or full available aerodynamic control will not exceed the airplane’s limit load factor. At or below this speed, the airplane will usually stall before the limit load factor can be exceeded. Those speeds must not be exceeded because of the extremely high structural loads that are imposed on the airplane, especially if there is turbulence. In most cases, these stalls should be performed at no more than 1.2 times the normal stall speed.
The objective of demonstrating accelerated stalls is not to develop competency in setting up the stall, but rather to learn how they may occur and to develop the ability to recognize such stalls immediately, and to take prompt, effective recovery action. It is important that recoveries are made at the first indication of a stall, or immediately after the stall has fully developed; a prolonged stall condition should never be allowed.
An airplane will stall during a coordinated steep turn exactly as it does from straight flight, except that the pitching and rolling actions tend to be more sudden. If the airplane is slipping toward the inside of the turn at the time the stall occurs, it tends to roll rapidly toward the outside of the turn as the nose pitches down because the outside wing stalls before the inside wing. If the airplane is skidding toward the outside of the turn, it will have a tendency to roll to the inside of the turn because the inside wing stalls first. If the coordination of the turn at the time of the stall is accurate, the airplane’s nose will pitch away from the pilot just as it does in a straight flight stall, since both wings stall simultaneously.
An accelerated stall demonstration is entered by establishing the desired flight attitude, then smoothly, firmly, and progressively increasing the angle of attack until a stall occurs. Because of the rapidly changing flight attitude, sudden stall entry, and possible loss of altitude, it is extremely vital that the area be clear of other aircraft and the entry altitude be adequate for safe recovery.
This demonstration stall, as in all stalls, is accomplished by exerting excessive back-elevator pressure. Most frequently it would occur during improperly executed steep turns, stall and spin recoveries, and pullouts from steep dives. The objectives are to determine the stall characteristics of the airplane and develop the ability to instinctively recover at the onset of a stall at other-than-normal stall speed or flight attitudes. An accelerated stall, although usually demonstrated in steep turns, may actually be encountered any time excessive back-elevator pressure is applied and/or the angle of attack is increased too rapidly.
From straight-and-level flight at maneuvering speed or less, the airplane should be rolled into a steep level flight turn and back-elevator pressure gradually applied. After the turn and bank are established, back-elevator pressure should be smoothly and steadily increased. The resulting apparent centrifugal force will push the pilot’s body down in the seat, increase the wing loading, and decrease the airspeed. After the airspeed reaches the design maneuvering speed or within 20 knots above the unaccelerated stall speed, back-elevator pressure should be firmly increased until a definite stall occurs. These speed restrictions must be observed to prevent exceeding the load limit of the airplane.
When the airplane stalls, recovery should be made promptly, by releasing sufficient back-elevator pressure and increasing power to reduce the angle of attack. If an uncoordinated turn is made, one wing may tend to drop suddenly, causing the airplane to roll in that direction. If this occurs, the excessive back- elevator pressure must be released, power added, and the airplane returned to straight-and-level flight with coordinated control pressure.
The pilot should recognize when the stall is imminent and take prompt action to prevent a completely stalled condition. It is imperative that a prolonged stall, excessive airspeed, excessive loss of altitude, or spin be avoided.