Understanding Spins and How to Properly Recover From Them

So, as promised, I did spin training within the last 2 weeks and got my endorsement. October 3rd to be precise, and it was an absolute blast.

Pictured above is my instructor and I in the Decathlon (excuse my chipmunk cheeks, courtesy of my DC headset pushing on them).

I learned a lot more once I actually went through the ground and flight training with him than I had thought I would. So, let's talk about some concepts that can be overlooked but are still important:

1) In the last post about spin training I wrote about PARE; 

Power idle

Ailerons neutral

Rudder full opposite the direction of the turn

Elevator briskly down

That's pretty much the general knowledge that everyone knows, not much else. Well, what about after the spin is broken? Do you just keep holding in those controls? No.

After applying rudder, you hold it in the opposite direction of the turn. This is what breaks the spin itself. Taking away power and ailerons is only to stay away from aggravating the spin, but those steps won't break it. After breaking the spin, meaning you've stop the turn in that direction, neutralize the rudder. If you don't you'll start a spin in the other direction. Because remember, you're still stalled

As you see the plane breaking out of the spin, then apply your elevator down. Most people think you do all 4 steps at once, but there's a precise time to do each one. Applying the elevator down will then break the stall (if you remember basic stall characteristics, this is reducing the angle of attack). Now smoothly apply your power back in to gain altitude (as you lose it very quickly in a spin) and smoothly bring the nose back up just above to horizon to start climbing.

So, to recap:

After inducing a spin you-

Power idle

Ailerons neutral

Rudder full opposite and hold it until the spin breaks

Elevator down as the spin breaks to then break the stall

Neutralize rudder after breaking spin to stop turn in other direction

Smoothly apply power and bring the nose back up to just above the horizon and start a gentle climb.

Remember that in a real situation to stay calm and remember these procedures, don't panic and try to turn the ailerons or yank the nose up. Follow these steps then be smooth in your recovery so you don't stress out the plane too much. Flying with structural damage would be a whole different ballgame. 

2) Entry into a spin. I feel like that needs to be talked about more! What are the signs you're about to enter a spin? Does it immediately start spiraling to the ground?

To help show what it looks like here's the video I took: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3LQjLpgazG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 

I hate to include a link to Instagram but it's the easiest way to share a video!

If you watch it, you'll notice it actually takes some work to induce a spin. First, both wings of the plane have to be stalled. In most spin training flights instructors us a cross-control stall to induce this because it's an easy way to bring it the lack of coordination.

So, you bring the nose up and exceed the critical angle of attack. In a demonstration, you're keeping this coordinated until you're about to induce the actual stall. Then you step on rudder in either direction (the direction you want to spin in) and keep it uncoordinated (ball out of center on your turn coordinator) until the plane buffets and a wing drops. Now, after the wing drops the plane does not immediately enter a crazy death-defying spin to the ground. It's actually a somewhat slow process.

Here, you still have time to react. There are 4 phases of a spin: entry, incipient, developed and recovery. Right here you're in the incipient phase. You've already induced a stall and applied too little/too much rudder. Now as the wing falls it has to have 2-3 turns before it's a fully developed spin. These are somewhat slow turns, when you're in the plane these feel slower than the ones when the plane is in stabilized autorotation. This can also be noted in the video.

These are all some concepts that should be noted for spin training and spin avoidance/recovery. Even if you're not going for a CFI certificate, I recommend to everyone taking at least one spin training course. We, as pilots, make errors. We're not perfect, but we can learn how to counteract our mistakes. 

Not to mention, it's super fun. 

While you may not go do spin training this weekend, you should go do something fun. Check out our calendar and see if there's any fun events going on near you, as I know this weekend we'll be having Wings Over Houston with us at Ellington! 

Happy Landings from all of us at Globalair.com,

-Addi