scenario. At high altitude, true airspeed is higher,
and if the pilot fails to adjust for the higher
groundspeed, an overshoot can easily be the
result. Recognizing the overshoot, the pilot
attempts to compensate by steepening the bank,
which increases the wing loading and increases
stall speed. To stop the nose from dropping in
the steep turn, the pilot uses top rudder (opposite
the direction of the turn). Now the situation is
an impending stall in a cross-controlled
configuration. The high wing stalls first, rolling
the aircraft out of the turn and into a deadly low-level spin. The end result is ugly, as the pilot has
virtually no chance of recovery.
This is another scenario that could be practiced, but only with lots of altitude and
professional instruction. Understanding how
the situation develops is perhaps most important
to avoid the deadly consequences.
A number of considerations should be made when
practicing stalls if our objectives include safety and
proficiency. Before initiating a stall—or any flight
maneuver—it is essential to clear the area of traffic.
That means clearing turns, but don’t stop there. An
announcement in the blind on the CTAF can go a
long way toward maintaining a safe flying environment for everyone. Simply announce where you
are and what you’re doing. In some areas, ATC is
more than happy to provide flight following for
aircraft practicing maneuvers locally, providing
warnings of and to other aircraft.
Completing checklists also is critical, since
omissions such as the use of carburetor heat can
lead to unnecessary excitement. Finally, be sure to
have sufficient altitude with which to complete the
maneuvers. The FARs may stipulate a minimum
altitude for conducting such maneuvers, so think
of that as a minimum rather than a target.
Avoiding stalls is a fundamental element in safe
flight. By understanding the scenarios in which
they can sneak up on us, we can learn to avoid the
most dangerous situations.
Robert N. Rossier, EAA 472091, has been flying for more than 30
years and has worked as a flight instructor, commercial pilot, chief
pilot, and FAA flight check airman.