Cessna stall
6 min read

Very early in a pilot’s initial training the instructor will reduce the power, raise the nose, feel the airplane shudder, the nose drops, and the CFI releases back pressure on the controls and adds power.

See, that was a stall. Not so bad. Nothing to be afraid of.

Really? Stalls are the leading cause of fatal accidents in general aviation airplanes. Every year way too many pilots stall and kill themselves and passengers on departure, landing approach, in the traffic pattern, buzzing, and even in training.

Cessna stall

Does this picture scare you?

Seems to me we should all be very afraid of stalls when they claim so many lives. I’m afraid of thunderstorms, super strong winds, icing, slippery runways, and a list of other hazards to aviation safety. Why shouldn’t I be afraid of stalls?

As with so much of aviation there is a double standard when it comes to attitude toward stalls. In larger airplanes flown by professional crews, we are taught to be afraid of stalls and never actually intentionally stall the airplane. In piston singles, budding pilots are taught not to fear the loss of control that a stall is and spend hours stalling the airplane.

The accident record shows that pilots of piston airplanes—who really do fly into full aerodynamic stalls—are involved in way too many fatal stall-related accidents. In larger airplanes, where pilots don’t fly to an aerodynamic stall during training and checking, accidents involving stalls are very rare. Who has the right attitude? Clearly to me it’s the pilots of the larger airplanes who don’t stall during training, and almost never stall in actual flying.

Much of this difference in the attitude about stalls, and training in stall avoidance in small versus large airplanes, is historical. Scads of piston airplanes were built without any reliable stall warning system. And many thousands of those are still flying. The only way for a pilot to recognize an impending stall was to fly to the actual stall and experience the buffet, or shake, or whatever aerodynamic warning—often very subtle—a particular airplane provides.

But in jets, especially those with swept wings, an actual aerodynamic stall may or may not be recoverable no matter how prompt and correct the pilot’s actions may be. Stall recovery is especially challenging in the thin air of high altitude, and even if possible, a full stall recovery is likely to require the loss of many thousands of feet. That’s why most larger airplanes have “stall barrier” systems that actually prevent an aerodynamic stall. If the airplane approaches the stalling angle of attack (AOA) a stick pusher shoves the controls forward to lower the AOA before the wing can stall.

Even with a stick pusher to prevent a stall, jets all have very positive stall warning systems that shake the control column as AOA nears stall. Or sound a loud horn. Or flash lights. Or yell loud vocal warnings. Or all of the above.

In initial and recurrent training, jet pilots always practice approach to a stall and recovery. The key here is “approach” to a stall. The drill is to immediately initiate recovery by adding power and lowering the AOA at the first indication of a stall, which is the shaker, horn, light, vocal alert, or whatever comes first. If you don’t recover at those warnings, well you fail a checkride, or get in the sim for more training before you can qualify for a checkride.

Contrast that practice to the usual training in piston airplanes, where the CFI routinely insists on ignoring the stall horn that may be chirping, and hauling back until the nose drops or a big sink rate develops. Again, the CFI is trying to allay the student’s fear of a stall. In the jet, we’re trying to reinforce that stalls are dangerous and must be avoided every time.

Stall from cockpit

Learning precise airspeed control on final may be more important than practicing stalls.

To me the most emphatic message that stalls are scary and must be avoided at all costs in larger airplanes is Vref. That is the landing approach reference airspeed, calculated to be 1.3 times the stall speed for the weight and configuration of the airplane.

Pilots of larger airplanes always lookup Vref for their landing weight and bug it on the airspeed indicator. Then you add airspeed above Vref for maneuvering with less than landing flaps, or for gusty winds, or even for bank angles greater than 15 degrees.

Vref is such a holy grail that it is the only “assigned” airspeed I can think of that has zero tolerance on the slow side. Other airspeeds must be maintained within a tolerance of plus or minus 10 knots. The standard for training and checkrides for Vref airspeed is never to fly even one knot slower until in the landing flare. If you do, you flunk. How’s that for reminding you to be afraid of a stall?

I think the Vref concept could and should be employed across all types and sizes of airplanes. In most piston airplanes, the difference between stalling speed at maximum and a realistic minimum landing weight is only a couple knots so a single Vref could be marked on the airspeed indicator for the highest landing weight.

Then, just like in the jets, we could enforce Vref discipline during training and checking. Fly slower than Vref and you flunk, or at least must receive more training before moving on.

I know that a wing can stall at just about any airspeed if it is loaded to high G. Snap rolls are clear evidence of that. But the 30 percent margin built into the Vref calculation would cover all maneuvering loads except buzzing pull-ups and other total horseplay when it comes to providing a stall margin.

Vref is all about being afraid to stall, and about maintaining a safe margin above stall. If you don’t like the word “afraid,” or “scary,” substitute respect. If all pilots learned that, and were trained and checked to a true stall avoidance standard as they are in large airplanes, I think we could put a dent in the stall accident problem.

If a pilot wants to fly aerobatics then he can learn about aerodynamic stalls and spins and other departures from normal controlled flight. That’s a different form of flying. And it involves at least some added risk that not all pilots want to take on.

We don’t practice flying into trees to show how dangerous that is. We don’t fly faster than the red line airspeed, or yank the airplane around loading it above its structural limits to prove how risky that would be. So why do we need to stall an airplane just to show that stalls must be avoided? Just avoid them from day one. And yes, tell new pilots that their instincts are right. Stalls should be scary and must be avoided or they can kill you.

Mac McClellan
67 replies
  1. Ethan Levi
    Ethan Levi says:

    Stall practice should not be about making sure a student is fearless of stalls. That said, a pilot shouldn’t be afraid of stalls just wary of them. The real value in practicing stalls is to teach a pilot the feel of an airplane at all angles of attack – the sounds and sensations of an airplane in cruise, an airplane about to stall, and an airplane in a full stall. Stall training should also be about teaching what happens to the stall speed of an aircraft in different configurations, in different maneuvers and of course it should be about stall recovery techniques. All those things were lacking in the crew flying Air France Flight 447 who stalled their airplane into the ocean from FL350 without even recognizing the stall. The way things are done now is just fine if we want pilots to actually fly airplanes: learn about stalls in small airplanes, then avoid them in the big ones. The way things are going these days full pilot training may become unnecessary. We can simply teach pilots to be afraid of flying the airplane, and just teach them how to manage the autoflight and autoland features of the airplanes. We can just go fly gliders on the weekends and thermal in tight circles being sure not to touch the outside margins of a stall.

    • Larry
      Larry says:

      Can’t imagine how someone who has never stalled an airplane could be less likely to stall one by accident. Seems to be pretty convoluted logic and remember that all atp pilots practiced stalls in light aircraft first. I have personally flown as crew on flight test 757 and 717 aircraft that were flown to a complete stall and recovered. The 717 did go inverted however.

      On stalls after a buzz job, in many light aircraft it’s not possible to avoid a stall unless you pull a little negative g’s when you push over after pulling up. People aren’t used to that feeling so they tend avoid it, also it generally results in a momentary loss of power due to fuel starvation. If you haven’t practiced that it might surprise you.

    • Mandy G.
      Mandy G. says:

      On my first lesson my instructor asked me to tighten my seatbelt and proceeded to perform a spin. That scared the crap out of me. I hate stalls. I teach my students about the aerodynamics of stalls and the scenarios of how must pilots stall and likely kill themselves. I demonstrate full stalls and recovery procedures. They NEVER practice stalls solo. I teaching goal is to operate the aircraft at various attitudes WITHOUT stalling. For the check ride recovery begins immediately upon the first indication of an impending stall. I’ve flown many thousands of hours in GA and some transport aircraft without even coming close to a stall. I owe that to my initial instructor and although it was a bit traumatic, he tough me to be unbelievably aware of this pilot killer aspect of flying.

      • Paul
        Paul says:

        My first C172 lesson included spins and that scared the crap out of me too. In those days we were sent up for solo spin training until we became pretty comfortable with spins and spin recovery. Do they still do that? Did it make me a safer pilot? Don’t know, but I’m still here.

  2. James Butler
    James Butler says:

    Mac, there are 228 people at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean from Air France Flight 447 who wish their pilots had the skills to recognize and recover from a stall. To deny pilots the tools to recognize and recover their aircraft from a stall, no matter the cause, is unconscionable. We need to teach pilots everything there is to know about flying and their aircraft, not make them afraid of a boogeyman. This is giving them the tools to not only fly their airplane when things are going right, but also when things are going unpredictably wrong. Comparing airline flying to general aviation flying is very disingenuous indeed. There are many people from copilots to mechanics and corporate weather departments involved to make sure each flight is completed safely. To compare all of those resources to a single pilot in a small GA airplane is ludicrous.

      Mac MCCLELLAN says:

      Hi James and Ethan,
      I knew the Air France Airbus crash would come up. It’s been more than 10 years. In that 10 years how many hundreds of GA pilots–who practices stalls all the time–are dead, along with any passengers, because they stalled the airplane. At least 1,000 over 10 years.
      Just saying. One type of pilot who doesn’t fly full aerodynamic stalls is nearly perfect. The ones who practice aerodynamic stalls just aren’t.
      Mac Mc

      • James Butler
        James Butler says:

        Mac I have a hard time believing you know the hundreds of pilots who are dead, let alone whether or not they practice aerodynamic stalls all the time. Just admit that stalls scare you and you don’t want to do them. But for the sake of the flying public, insist on pilots learning every tool possible to fly their airplane and not rely on automation, which will fail. Again, you are comparing apples to oranges when you compare GA to the airlines. The airlines have many people and resources to make sure the aircraft, weather and all other decision making is sound. A typical GA flight has one person.

  3. Jhon calderon
    Jhon calderon says:

    Sounds to me like this article is pushing all the blame of practicing wing stalls to a full break on the flight instructors, thus blaming the flight instructors for propagating this fearless attitude toward full break wing stalls. This is something that is required by the FAA for certification of pilots, this has to be demonstrated if you ever want to be certificated as a pilot so you can get to the “jets” and practice stall avoidance. It is not the CFI’s choice to practice this maneuver in that manner, it is mandated by the FAA. If you want to blame somebody, that’s where your finger should point; CFIs are just merely following guidance from the FAA.

  4. George Maliga
    George Maliga says:

    I fly a large transport category aircraft for a major US Airline. Recently, high level simulators have been certified for full stall training. My last recurrent training event included a full stall demonstration and recovery that is now required by the FAA for captains and first officers.

      Mac MCCLELLAN says:

      Hi George,
      I assume by full stall you mean you flew to the stick pusher, if flying an airplane with conventional controls. Or, in FBW, until the computers pushed the nose over. I don’t know of any large transport swept wing airplane that doesn’t have some sort of a stall barrier system so the wing doesn’t actually stall.
      Mac Mc

      • Sam
        Sam says:


        You are clearly very uninformed for someone with such a strong opinion about stall training. Yes, most if not all swept wing airplanes have multiple stall warning / prevention devices, as they well should. Just because they have them, and we train for approach to stalls / recoveries in the simulator absolutely does not mean that EVERY PILOT in EVERY SIZE airplane should be trained, familiar, and comfortable with full stall indications, handling characteristics, and recoveries in his or her airplane.

        I suggest you familiarize yourself with EET, (enhanced envelope training) which is a mandatory part of initial, as well as recurrent training for 121 operators. It is a stand-alone sim session during which we practice numerous full stalls and recoveries at variety of altitudes and configurations, among other things. Stall prevention devices can easily be turned off using simulated malfunctions. In the case of the A320, a simple reversion to alternate law, or direct law is all that it takes to remove these protections. While we can not go out and practice full stalls in real airliners, the data that was used to program the sims behavior was taken from full stall demonstrations in the real airplane, in order to make it handle as realistically as possible. It is vital and necessary training, and should have been in place a long time ago.

        This “opinion” article you’ve written here is extremely disappointing. I simply can not get my mind around why you would advocate for pilots to be afraid of stall training. As a CFI I spent hundreds of hours teaching students to be comfortable with stall recoveries, because doing so may save their life one day. As an airline pilot I eagerly look forward to EET because what we are taught in those sim sessions could help me save the lives of my customers one day. To say we should be afraid – and teach others to be afraid- of stalls is an insult to every pilot and passenger that is no longer alive due to improper stall recovery. To prevent more deaths, we literally need the opposite of everything you have written here. More training, more experience, and less fear regarding stalls. Anything less is a disservice to pilots, as well as passengers.

        • Mac MCCLELLAN
          Mac MCCLELLAN says:

          Hi Sam,
          Yes, I’ve flown to the simulated aerodynamic stall in Level D sims. I’ve also been among the not so many pilots to fly a full aerodynamic stall in a high performance highly swept wing transport jet.
          I won’t name the manufacturer, but it was with the experimental test pilots for a story in Flying years ago. The impressive part of the full stall is how far the nose dropped, how very long you had to wait while putting no pressure on the controls for the airspeed to recover enough while staring at a windshield full of ocean.
          And when recovery was finally possible it required a very gentle back pressure, and even at that, the wing buffeted strongly. It took several applications of light aft pressure on the controls to finally recover, and I don’t remember how many thousands of feet down from the initial altitude.
          Did that experience teach me how to recover? I guess, if there was enough altitude, there wasn’t moderate or severe turbulence, and I didn’t have some sort of total instrument failure. But more than that it taught me why the airplane has a stick shaker to warn of the stall, and a stick pusher in case I slept through the shaker.
          I can think of at least three large business jets that crashed fatally during test flying due to unrecoverable stalls. Test pilots need to find the stalling alpha so the stall warning and barrier systems can be created to keep the rest of us away from that point. Once that data is collected, with some hazard to the experimental test pilots, I’m very happy to stay always on the other side of the aerodynamic stall.
          The experience also taught me to respect–if you prefer that word to fear–a stall. But then as I said in the original piece, I fear thunderstorms, icy runways, flying into terrain and lots of other hazards without ever experiencing them.
          Mac Mc

      • Doug Eastman
        Doug Eastman says:


        True that all large transport category aircraft have some sort of stall barrier system built in, but the FAA now mandates that “professional” pilots have to know how to recover when those systems aren’t working as advertised. Call a few of your airline buddies and go experience it for yourself. A sad side note, most “professional” pilots do not do very well on the first couple of attempts at this event. The pros are becoming reliant on the automation and hand flying skills get worse everyday for those that don’t fly outside the airlines. Ask an Airbus 320 family pilot to turn off the autopilot, auto thrust and flight director and have them fly a simple raw data approach…..watch them sweat…. As for your article, didn’t like it one bit. We are getting away from so many basic fundamentals. In my world, you should have to start in a tailwheel airplane with no radio, learn how to fly. Then you should be required to do a basic aerobatic course, so you know how to fly. Then add all that other fancy stuff we do later on. You and all the other “influential” aviators should be encouraging people to be better pilots by exploring things outside their comfort zones. Gravity always wins…. just sayin.

  5. A. Mello
    A. Mello says:

    Why? Because I’ve noticed that people who are afraid of stalls fly airplanes way to fast for the airport traffic patterns they’re in. On downwind – way to fast, afraid to slow down, extension of flaps well above the white arc. Base and final extension of flaps… more towards the flap limit speed straining the airframe, driving the airplane in with power with way to much speed during the flare, and holding it off while getting blown off towards the runways edge and then finally having it plop to the pavement. Why…?Because they’re afraid of a stall and were never instructed how to fly and land a plane on the slower side without power. It’s as if all their landings are a game of roulette to see where and when the touchdown will occur. And watch their climb-out! “Book says 80 but I use 100.” Why? Because someone didn’t teach them correctly, (in my opinion). Or… during their BFR nobodies correcting poor flying habits. And as long as they’re flying out of that ol familiar 5000 foot asphalt strip they’re okay. Just be cautious about grabbing a burger with them on a 2400 foot runway.

    • Rick Phillips
      Rick Phillips says:

      Well, let’s see … I don’t like to stall, and a lifetime ago I accidently spun an airplane. But I’m on the numbers in the pattern, always. In fact, that’s probably my best skill: holding altitudes and airspeeds. Smooth landings, not so much.
      Why? Because I was taught that those airspeeds are perfectly safe flying a standard traffic pattern, and, oddly, I believe the manufacturer.

      • Ron Berinstein
        Ron Berinstein says:

        Rick, if your referring to flying the published “numbers” per the manufacturer in a POH or AFM, you may not be actually flying the correct numbers e.g. stall speed, and that could be among the reasons for your not so “smooth landings.” – Unless you are flying at max gross weight and with a CG in the envelope but at full forward, the published stall speed / approach speed you may be using, is probably incorrect. If you are indeed calculating your Vref via actual flight characteristics, and not generic published numbers, please disregard these comments that were written only with the best intentions in mind.

    • Terence Shumaker
      Terence Shumaker says:

      That’s a bit harsh. In my former career as a college instructor I always told my students to come to class with the question “what am I going to find out today? Mac has written an article containing things to think about, and it provoked many responses that offered other things to think about. Good discussions with many topics, questions and observations.

      Unfortunately your acidic retort added absolutely nothing to this important conversation. I applaud Mac for putting his experience and opinions on the line. Regardless of how you think about them.

  6. Torsten Büttner
    Torsten Büttner says:

    Your article reminded me on this training video from the FlightChops channel:


    When they did their quick survey, all of the GA pilots mentioned that stall recovery is more important while the airliner pilots mentioned that prevention is the key, which completely aligns with your findings.

    Kind regards

  7. David Megginson
    David Megginson says:

    I see you’ve stepped into a hornets’ nest here, given the many angry and insulting comments. I’m still thinking over what you wrote. I’m proud of my ability to recognise and recover from a stall, and to be able to approach a short field at 1.2 Vs and stop the plane in a short distance.

    On the other hand, all the arguments in favour of stall training now sound similar to the arguments in favour of spin training in the past, when we know now that (a) more people died during botched spin training than in actual spins, and (b) most real-life stall/spins start too close to the ground for recovery anyway.

    So maybe you have a point. I’ll keep an open mind and listen for more arguments pro/con.

  8. Alex Campbell
    Alex Campbell says:

    I am puzzled by the logic in this article and the emphasis on Vref (or any airspeed really) as a way of avoiding stalls, which seems misguided and irresponsible. As I am certain the author knows, Vref is calculated on the wings level stall speed. But how many GA pilots actually stall and crash with wings level?

    We should be emphasising that stalls are the result of AoA not airspeed, this is basic stuff but incredible important.

    The problem far more often is too much bank angle on approach leading to a stall/spin and fatal accident. This can happen at or above Vref! Overshoot base to final, crank in the bank angle, realise you’re too low and load up the things a bit, in a more slippery GA airplane like a Cirrus you’re now an NTSB report.

    And before I get the response “well only inexperienced/unskilled pilots would do that”, I urge anyone thinking this to read the NTSB report on the USAF B1-B test pilot who tragically did exactly that in his SR22. If it can happen to him it can happen to anyone.

      Mac MCCLELLAN says:

      Hi Alex,
      You’re right. Vref is valid only to 15 degrees of bank and 1 G flight. That’s why when maneuvering a speed of Vref plus some value must be maintained. Also, bank angles, if you want to pass the check, are limited to 30 degrees.
      Take a look at the stall speed vs bank angle diagram in your POH. For the Baron 58, which POH I have handy, the graph shows about a 3 knot stall speed increase at 30 degrees of bank compared to wings level. Roll to 60 degrees at the stall speed increases by about 24 knots.
      Bank matters some at less than 30 degrees, but really changes the stall speed at greater angles.
      Mac Mc

    • Byron Huff
      Byron Huff says:

      Yay!!! Someone finally used the term AOA!!! Exceeding the critical Angle of attack causes stalls. Not airspeed. CFIs should teach slow speed maneuvering (at altitude) to see what kind of maneuvering you can do at “speeds” well below stall speed. They need to get the feel of the aircraft and what to do when the Critical AOA is approached. (This doesn’t apply to airline pilots. They have millions of dollars worth of electronics to prevent stalls and they don’t fly in the envelopes that are conducive to stalls.) Keep it safe out there. Learn to fly YOUR airplane.

  9. Chris S Thomas
    Chris S Thomas says:

    Don’t be afraid. Be educated & be competent. Learn both the academic knowledge and the practical skills. This is disappointing. It’s time to retire!

    -ATP/Airline Line Check Airman, UPRT Instructor, Formation Airshow Pilot, Aerobatic Competitor

  10. Bruce S.
    Bruce S. says:

    Can’t we have a reasonable discussion without the vitriol? Mac is expressing a well-formed and reasoned opinion. I don’t have to agree with his entire thesis, but I recognize that he has made some very valid points. Why can’t we reason together and have a rational discussion?

    We don’t require spin training for the very valid reasons David M. mentioned above. Instead, we teach students how to recognize and avoid dangerous flight regimes where a spin might occur. We don’t teach actual recovery from inverted flight in the event that we inadvertently encounter wake turbulence. Instead, we teach how to (hopefully) avoid wake turbulence. We don’t actually fly into known icing in a training aircraft to demonstrate how an airplane handles with a load of ice (read Ernie Gann instead!). Some things are best taught by avoidance. I don’t have to get bitten by a rattlesnake to know that it can be painfully hazardous to my health.

    Mac’s article is not the first I’ve read on this subject and there is much food for thought here. Perhaps it might be better to pound into a student’s very being that they need to be hyper aware of what the airplane is telling them when the wing is approaching the critical angle of attack or an incipient stall. If they feel a buffet, experience mushy controls, hear a quieting of the slipstream, hear the stall warning horn, see or hear AOA indicator warnings, whatever… then they should immediately unload the wing and recover.

    It seems that the FAA wants certain stalls demonstrated by the student pilot on a practical test, but not necessarily the stalls that might result in a more ‘interesting’ recovery. A private pilot candidate will not be required to demonstrate a cross-control stall on the practical test. Why not? Is it because pilots never inadvertently stall in a cross-control condition? That was a rhetorical question.

    So, we are required to practice SOME stalls, but not others? We are tested on some stalls but not others? However, perhaps it’s the ‘others’ that might be the most important to practice and demonstrate. What do you think?

    The bottom line, as Jhon indicated, is that we do what the FAA mandates. This is a very interesting topic, however, and again, I can see both sides.

    Me? I run through the gamut of stalls, having students practice recognizing and recovering from as many different types of stalls as we can do in relative safety and not enter the aerobatic flight regime. However, at the end of the lesson I always stress stall recognition. If a student recognizes ANY of the indicators of an incipient stall and they aren’t trying to stall the airplane, then RECOVER immediately. Don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200… RECOVER. Fence straddling…

    Which begs the question… If students do become experts in stall recognition and can recover instinctively before the airplane actually stalls, then…?

  11. Pete Zaitcev
    Pete Zaitcev says:

    The problem is yeah, stalls in jets are rare, but when they do happen, we get AF447: pilots are clueless for 2 minutes from event to impact.

    • David Megginson
      David Megginson says:

      “The problem is yeah, stalls in jets are rare, but when they do happen, we get AF447: pilots are clueless for 2 minutes from event to impact.”

      Sure, but the problem with AF447 was a lot bigger than that: the left and right control sticks weren’t linked, so each pilot was doing opposite inputs trying to recover, and the Airbus system was averaging them out (about the most idiotic of all the different conflict-resolution approaches Airbus could have taken).

  12. Gary Keendall
    Gary Keendall says:

    I learned to fly in 1965. Started out in a Cessna 120. Power on stalls scared me out of flying for a couple months. Was convinced to go back and resume training in a PA-28-140. Went back to the 120, then part interest in a 150 and 182. Flew Super Cub and Citabria. Spin training in the 150 and Citabria made stalls a piece of cake. Had an old WW2 instructor who always commanded to “fly the damn airplane”. If more students were trained that way, there would be fewer stall/spin accidents today. Learning to recognize an impending stall is good. Even better to learn what to do when stall fully developes. Just might save your bacon someday.

  13. Ian
    Ian says:

    Intentional stalls during single engine training almost never result in a crash. The problem is less than proficient pilots flying higher performance aircraft that don’t remember how to recognize and recover from the onset of a stall.

    I don’t believe that making less educated pilots is going to solve the accident rate. Rather I believe that the issue is a lack of recurrent training on the GA side. Most of the crashes that I see are long time pilots that go out in their Bonanza, or other similar HP aircraft, and stall it on takeoff.

    I am sure that most of us know one or two pilots around the airport that fly 10 times a year and would be lost without a gps and a autopilot. Those are the pilots that are driving the accident rate up, not the student that is flying the stall to the buffet.

  14. Michael Moynihan
    Michael Moynihan says:

    I enjoyed the article, as any information that reminds me of the risks is good. I learned one way back in 1962 and a slightly different version last year. I always watch my speed and wing level and probably come in faster than most other pilots. My Cessna 150 has 40 degree flaps and that gives me more flexibility and confidence in landing.

  15. Kirk price
    Kirk price says:

    Comparing a swept wing jetliner to a straight winged piston powers single is obviously the most Apple to oranges comparison anyone could come up with.

  16. Cary Alburn
    Cary Alburn says:

    There’s definitely some vitriol in some of the responses, which isn’t very productive. I’ll just say that I disagree with Mac on this one. I don’t have nearly his experience, and none in the heavy iron environment. But several thousand hours and 47 years of flying counts for something. It’s been some 33 years since I last instructed, but I can’t imagine teaching a student to slow only to 1.3 Vso, or even just tickling the stall like the current FAA requirements seem to dictate. In my view, a good pilot needs to know not just theoretical aerodynamics, but what that actually means.

    From early in our training, we’re all taught that a stall can occur in any pitch angle, any airspeed. But we don’t really believe that, because we haven’t seen it happen. Our stall training is, to put it simply, too benign. I believe that if more pilots received upset recovery or aerobatic training, there would be fewer LOC accidents. That sort of training cannot be learned by pushing the right buttons, programming the airplane to do what the computer tells it what to do. Or never flying near the edge of the envelope. That requires hands-on, in-the-airplane training. Even the best sim can’t mimic a true “out of control, how to get it under control” situation.

    I remember very clearly some of the lessons that came from my own basic aerobatic training. I was already a CFII and a relatively competent pilot, but that training made me much more competent, and definitely more confident. With the airplane pointed straight down at the ground at cruise airspeed, hauling the stick back and stalling the airplane was one of those lessons one never forgets. Yes, it really can stall at any pitch and any airspeed. More importantly, it can be recovered from such mishandling, and it doesn’t take a super pilot to do it.

    The problem with relying on all of the doodads and gimcracks to remind a pilot not to stall the airplane is that when those fail, or for some reason are ignored, the pilot doesn’t really seem to know what to do. Feeling the airframe shudder and the controls becoming mushy or even non-responsive when in a stall, and knowing what to do to regain full control, is a necessary skill for all pilots at all levels. It’s not just the Air France pilots who apparently didn’t know what to do. Although airline flying has exponentially improved safety over the last few decades, when accidents do happen, It’s been mostly because the the pilots either lacked the proper training or forgot what they had learned about basic aerodynamics, especially what leads to a stall, whether that was declining airspeed, excessive bank angle, excessive back pressure. And ultimately, what a stall actually feels like.

    So whether it’s for the experienced airline pilots or the relatively inexperienced GA pilots, and all pilots in between, I believe that it would be a horrible mistake to take either full stall training and recovery or approach to stall and recovery training out of the curricula. To fly safely, all pilots need to know how to fly the airplane, not just how to program its computers.

  17. Norman Davis
    Norman Davis says:

    I had been fearful of stalls since I started flying thirty years ago. I was told not to fear, but respect stalls and learn how to recover.
    Being afraid of anything is counter productive. If fear takes over, one becomes irrational and cannot react appropriately. I still dislike stalls and often break out into a cold sweat following the maneuver, not in anticipation, or during a stall procedure.

  18. Henri Geier
    Henri Geier says:

    On my second solo flight I was on base leg with another aircraft making a straight in on the parallel runway. I was watching that airplane and trying to determine when to make my turn to final when I felt the prestall buffet. It scared the heck out of me and without the stall training I had I probably would not have recognized that buffet.

  19. Henri G.
    Henri G. says:

    On my second solo flight I was on base leg with another aircraft making a straight in on the parallel runway. I was watching that airplane and trying to determine when to make my turn to final when I felt the prestall buffet. It scared the heck out of me and without the stall training I had I probably would not have recognized that buffet.

  20. Ken Killian
    Ken Killian says:

    Mac, I suspect that you knew you were stepping into a hornet’s nest with this article. This is one that I will have to disagree with you vehemently. After over 40 years of flying, I find that I am still learning, but have never felt that “too much information” might kill me. Developing precision speeds and feel have become paramount for me and I never fly a month without practicing a variety of stalls. I have never had the experience in a large jet or airline teachings, so I cannot speak to that, but I do have a wide level of experience in smaller GA aircraft. The recognition of a stall (or the lack of) is something that has to be experienced in my opinion.

  21. Eric Loveridge
    Eric Loveridge says:

    As a pilot who somehow survived a stall accident during my fourth flying lesson with my instructor, I applaud Mac for taking a stance on this. I’ll never forget the sight of the ground growing closer very fast. I probably shouldn’t have survived statistically, and looking back I really don’t see any value of going beyond the buffet to show me what a stall feels like. Mac, please keep on writing. You’re just suggesting a change from the norm and people always resist it.

    • Mac McClellan
      Mac McClellan says:

      Wow, Eric. I’m so glad you survived a training stall crash.
      I’m reminded of a pilot who called me several years ago because the NTSB wanted to talk to him. Turns out this pilot had survived a night training landing approach crash that took him through trees on final. He was among the first to be wearing the seat belt air bag and the NTSB wanted to interview him. Of course I told him to give the investigators every detail he could remember to help understand how and if the air bag helped, and how the flight training crash happened.
      And that’s my point here. One group of pilots, those flying business and airline jets almost never stall and crash. But in GA a stall is the leading cause of fatal accidents. Why the huge difference? Training is certainly a big issue to consider.
      Mac Mc

  22. Anthony Tinsman
    Anthony Tinsman says:

    In my humble opinion, all pilots should be spin recovery and instrument trained. Stall training is becoming like tailwheel training and that is sad. Let’s face it, the best way to train is start with a glider, then a taildragger with stall and spin training, preferebly an aircraft with adverse yaw. Now a pilot will be ready for any aircraft. Practice of commercial manuevers should be every Private Pilot certificate holders goal. You can be like Alf and avoid that which scares you, or be pragmatic and overcome fear with logic and practice. Nothing will replace experience and therein lies the root cause of so much trouble in G.A., MONEY! What will be the next phobia “Right Pattern”?

  23. JR
    JR says:

    The overarching sense I get from the comments is this is an either/or issue.

    Either we practice stalls or we follow Mac’s lead and rely on Vref or another speed like DMMS mentioned in the great Flight Chops video that Torsten Büttner mentioned (thought of the same video when reading the article).

    However, why does it have to be either/or? Why not YES AND?

    I hated doing stalls. And I haven’t gotten myself close to that edge yet without a CFI in the right seat. However, the experience of doing the stalls certainly imbued a healthy respect to stay inside the envelope.

    I vote for keeping the stalls in the mix while also (AND!!) hammering home the concept of Vref or Dan Gryder’s DMMS (Defined Minimum Maneuvering Speed).

  24. rdt7
    rdt7 says:

    GA pilots are terrible at flying precise airspeeds. I base this on direct observation and accident reports. Given that, I think flight training and flight reviews should focus on flying patterns and approaches at a standard of +/- 5 knots. I like Mac’s idea of teaching a Vref.

    I would still advocate teaching stalls and stall recovery but precise flying comes first IMO.

  25. José Serra
    José Serra says:

    Telling or posting an opinion is part of the freedom of having that opinion, even if a accentuated lot of persons don’t share it. So, there’s no right – in steady of using arguments (and solid ones) to refuse that opinion – to use sentences that, merely try to shut the voice of the other part, and wishing that that person be condemned to write no more, nevertheless in a site where that person had written excellent articles.
    Mr. Terence Shumaker, Mr. Cary Alburn, Mr. David Magginson and Mr. Buce S., as well as the author, are worth of my consideration.

  26. Stephen Phoenix
    Stephen Phoenix says:

    At first, I thought nahh. But on reflection, I don’t think the idea could hurt, and it might be better.
    If we must teach stalls, my pet peeve is the half training we give today. For all those hotshots out there that have practiced stalls in a 172 with their instructor and anointed as competent, I recommend that you take that same 172 out at max GW and aft CG and try again. I expect that some learning will take place.

  27. Larry #2
    Larry #2 says:

    Since I’ve been aviating for 50 years, just to make sure of what the Airman Certification Standards require for today’s private pilot aspirants, I took a look at ’em. From the Draft version to FAA-S-ACS-6B dated June 2018, they require power off and power on stalls as well as slow flight without entering a stall. So that means Mac’s piece is his opinion only. To pass a flight test, you have to do actually do stalls.

    I’ll join the gang that disagrees with him. If you want to take his premise to its logical conclusion, we can give up flying altogether and fly “virtually” with a drone … that way we can’t hurt ourselves … ridiculous. At some point, “fly the damn airplanes” means just that. Once you know how to enter, recognize and exit a stall in a C172 in training, you can then recognize that you don’t want to do that in a G7, and why. He’s writing as if because you don’t stall the G7, you shouldn’t stall a C172 in training. Those ARE apples and oranges situations which are mutually exclusive as someone has already opined.

    Many moons ago showing off one time at Edwards AFB, CA in a T-34A, I did an accelerated stall at low altitude and almost became a statistic. It was only because I knew what was happening that I managed to recover safely. One other time years later, I was doing a pass at low altitude and slow speed in a C150 when I realized there was no power to recover and I had to “milk” the airplane back to flight before I got intimate with some pine trees. You gain EXPERIENCE by — umm — actually doing things … not talking about them or having the knowledge. Then when you fly heavy iron, you know why you don’t want to stall that type of airplane. That’s why the ACS is organized into Task “objective,” “knowledge,” “risk management” and “skills.” The FAA clearly differentiates between knowledge and skills.

    So the FAA doesn’t agree with him, either.

    • Larry #2
      Larry #2 says:

      Adding to my comment, just before my T-34A accelerated stall, I had taken a few glider lessons at Tehachapi. I learned how to pump the ailerons to pick up a wing and that’s just what I did with the elevator during the deep accelerated stall. I managed to push the nose over and getting it to fly before hitting the ground. (I did a stupid thing there!).

      In the C-150 incident, I was flying by a crowd of people at about 100′ over a runway but the darned airplane didn’t have any more power to give me. With the flaps down ~30 deg, I knew better than to retract, didn’t have enough runway left to try to land and tall trees were approaching. I clearly remember using every trick I had learned slow flying airplanes while lamenting that I might “eat it” in — of all airplanes — a C150.

      The CFI I fly with for FRs makes me fly at min airspeed and do all sorts of turns to a heading. Once in a while, the airplane will start a stall and I use the rudder to hold heading. He always compliments my natural instinct about NOT letting the airplane start turning or trying to hold heading with ailerons. SOME of what we’re talking about here is muscle memory type stuff. There’s only one way to learn that.

      I also remember an article written by Barry Schiff where a CFI is asking Barry what the big thing about stalls is all about. Barry asks the CFI what airplane he’s using; answer … C172. Barry tells him to load it with four guys to full gross weight, go do the stalls and THEN come back and ask the question. The CFI comes back and tells Barry that he no longer has a question and understands why Barry told him to do that. So even within the same airplane … lightly loaded or fully loaded … it’ll handle differently.

      Finally, it was only when I was CONFIDENT in my own abilities that I stopped flying approaches too fast fearing the dreaded “stall.” Now, I can use Vref – a little bit with no fear and I do much better landings. Especially when lightly loaded in my C172 w/ camber lift wing. There’s another article in today’s Air Facts that talks about the AA-5B POH numbers being TOO high (I guess for liability?). That pilot learned the same thing. Now then, I once owned an AA-1A Trainer with a 24.5′ wing. THAT airplane would STOP flying promptly at 63 mph. Pilot beware. At 64 it’s flying; at 62 it’s a rock.

      I’m not a CFI but if I were or IF I’m asked … my advice is to take your airplane out and do all sorts of stalls under all sorts of loading and wind conditions and learn it well. At some point in the future, you’ll be glad you did. Including, when you MUST land on a postage stamp piece of real estate under duress.

  28. Donald Purney
    Donald Purney says:

    I once was giving dual instruction on steep 360 turns to a student who I told to recover because he was cross controlling and nearing a stall. He applied some control pressure but not enough and guess what, we stalled. I recovered the airplane could see that the student was upset. Later, on the ground I asked him what happened. I wanted to know his thoughts. I knew why we had stalled but did he? He replied that we must have stalled. I then asked why he didn’t recover and he said that he did everything that he had done in the past when approaching a stall. It had always worked before. He did not move the controls enough to recover. He pushed the nose down, but not enough. He eased the bank, but not enough. He really did not know what a stall was and how to recover.

    We need to teach students how to recognize an impending stall and what to do about it but to make such lessons more than just theory we also need to teach full stalls and how to recover.

  29. Mike Bergman
    Mike Bergman says:

    I concur 100% Mac. I’m an older, relative new comer to GA. Got my PPL 8 years ago at a part 141 flight school. Without a doubt there was way too much emphasis placed on stall recovery vs stall avoidance. Teaching students to continue to pull back on the yoke with the stall horn blaring in their ear is the definition of negative training. The other lesson learned I came away with is it seems pretty damn hard to completely stall an airplane so it’s unlikely I could ever do it unintentionally. Given that the flight regime a stall is most likely to occur is on the base to final turn, where recovery is improbable anyway, the over emphasis on stall recovery vs avoidance is literally killing people. The only instruction I recall regarding avoiding stalls in the pattern was an occasional “watch your speed”.

    Practicing full stalls should be a part of aerobatic training not a basic PPL. New students could be exposed to a “couple” of full stalls in primary training but teaching students to ignore the stall horn and keep pulling back on the yoke has to stop.

  30. George
    George says:

    Thank you, Mac, for starting this discussion. I feel that using the word “Afraid” in the title got more people to read the article than if you had used “Respect.” I’m glad my instructor taught me stall recovery and also spin recovery. When I hear the stall warning the AOA, attitude & airspeed get my full attention. The radio calls, etc. can wait.
    If we fly the way we train then I suggest a modification to the training. The first 10-20 times of approaching the stall and getting the warning we should train to recover -not- to keep pulling back until we actually stall. Even now in stall demonstrations my instructor has to keep urging me to pull back when I’d rather recover. So, it’s valuable to learn stall recovery but let’s do that well after learning stall avoidance.
    My next task is to get my instructor to accept that a gradual turn from base to final is better than the squared off base to final. It’s so easy to avoid overshooting final and getting into that “No-zone.” Any comments?

    • Ron Berinstein
      Ron Berinstein says:

      George, as CFI who taught acro as far back as the early 70’s, and as a guy who loves aerobatic (very steep) turns, my opinion is there is NOTHING WRONG with a reasonable gradual turn to final that ends up with a perfect roll out at the right altitude and your aircraft lined up on centerline…

      In fact, should you be flying with a crosswind at the surface that is a headwind while on base, why not fly a well calculated gradual turn? However, remember if the wind on base is a tailwind, you may desire a bit more bank to protect yourself from overflying final.

      Just remember that if you should overfly final, or plan less than perfectly and feel uncomfortable with the approach for any reason, do not delay or try to “save the day.” Just, do what you are trained to do; go around. First, fly the plane, second communicate your plan.

      It’s ironic… folks spend thousands of dollars to get a certificate allowing them to fly, then on final approach when things have gone south, they feel above all else they must land, rather than accept the opportunity as a sort of unexpected gift, and a valid excuse to fly some more.

      Many folks say you should plan to go around upon every approach. Land only if you must, because you’ve done such a good job!

      Best to you,

      Ron Berinstein cfii

  31. N.E.Davis
    N.E.Davis says:

    Afraid of stalls? If one is afraid, rational thought goes down the tubes. Be wary and respect them.
    I hate stalls. I break into a cold sweat after doing them. But I save the the uncomfortable feelings for after the maneuver I had an instructor years ago who was stated it was my sense of self preservation and to channel that sense into rational stall recovery.

    If I don’t fly for an extended period of time, the stall anxiety rears its ugly head and I must practice them with an instructor before I can again feel comfortable. I have never liked high angles of attack. I have the illusion I’m sliding backwards towards the ground. Now that’s uncomfortable! We all have our phobias.

  32. Ron Berinstein
    Ron Berinstein says:

    Mr. McClellan, politely offered, there are some real circumstances with this article and your positions regarding stalls… Though I compliment you upon your first airplane pick; a Cessna 140 is a great way to begin… though hardly anything to fear in the air, on the ground, it can help keep you awake.

    #1 recovery – Please do not allow the suggestion that GA prop pilots should add power first and then lower the nose as you associated with jets. Please advocate to reduce AOA first, then use power as appropriate so that spin departures can be avoided.

    #2 Pilots who stall airplanes in maneuvering flight kill, the stall itself is just the honest result derived from a poorly trained pilot.

    #3 Stalls are your best friend when trying to make a proper landing. Pilots train to make “full stall” landings, or at least should… Perhaps you remember flying that Cessna 140 tailwheel craft and holding it inches off the deck until it purred to the runway tail held full back and power off?

    #4 There were a lot of well written comments already typed, so I without being redundant, I will assign a certain amount of blame to our teaching structure when it comes to stalls. Most stalls during ground prep and in the air are illustrated and flown stalling the (upright) plane nose high above the horizon, stick back… followed by recovery. However, that is NOT the stall that kills folks. The often touted “base leg to final approach” stall does not happen that way. The nose is not way up above the horizon, rather it starts BELOW the horizon. Unless we teach pilots the actual ways stalls occur and how to sense them – and NO you do not need to wait for buffet to know there is a stall event occurring (even in craft w/out AOA meters or warning devices), we will continue to see pilots repeat the very same errors as those who gone before them.

    #5 Pilots need to be able to determine relative wind direction. Think that’s easy? Nope!
    Most pilots have no idea while on a final approach where the relative wind is. They do not associate reducing power with level wings as an increase in AOA. Nor do they associate the flaps, or perhaps lowering a landing gear with same.

    #6 What you have attacked is just a piece of physics. (and by the way – re: physics “…wing can stall at just about any airspeed…” that should be “at any airspeed.”

    #7 You advocate being scared of stalls… I direct you to read a bit about the Yerkes & Dodson law. Studying Startle reflex might be good as well. Being afraid rarely makes a poor pilot better, rather it makes them a funeral expense.

    #8 Good Instruction incorporates ADM and Situational Awareness skills that are reinforced with scenario based flight so that pilots are not scared, but prepared. The imagery that otherwise could kill is properly already stored in their brains toolbox (think amygdala).

    #9 Add training as a cfi to your resume. Hopefully, choose a good cfi to learn from. Then, add some EMT to the repertoire. Important though: you’ll need to make room for the experience, i.e. an open mind. Drawing only upon old anecdotal observations and patterns long since revised just shouldn’t be the stuff we need to currently write about.

    Be well and safe.

  33. Steven
    Steven says:

    I had the pleasure of acquaintance with a fine gentleman who was a retired airline captain, FBO (/flight school/charter) operator, and owner of various aircraft including a business jet. Sensing my combination of aviation passion coupled with serious demeanor, he was gracious enough to let me fly said jet years ago when I was a relatively low time pilot. I did not find I needed to be afraid of stalls to be able to fly it IFR in busy Los Angeles airspace, at night, to an unfamiliar airport, for that, my first experience flying a jet aircraft (with an instructor/DPE as right seat PIC). Instead, the fact that I was fully comfortable with all parameters of flight – including full stalls – allowed me to “just fly the airplane” with the calm confidence that permitted a clear mind to perform “the best” he’d “ever seen” from anyone (per that DPE). This is not about me; it’s about that, as someone who did not fear the stall, at the conclusion of the challenging hand-flying flight (IFR, LA, flying unfamiliar aircraft, at night) I simply kept proper airspeed/AOA in mind as I was then freed to focus on nailing the IFR and flying the correct numbers (not 1 knot faster, or too “afraid” to slow it precisely to the proper low speed to permit a greaser landing).

    Why is this story worth writing, after everything has already been said, above? Because it illustrates one of Ron Berinstein’s points (the Yerkes–Dodson law). Sure, inadvertent stalling can spoil your flight – just as can lots of other things. Just learn everything (including respect for stalls and full comfort with them) as part of being a good pilot so you can focus, not on your fears, but on flying the airplane. Stalls are just one part of the flight envelope, and one part of flying. Learn everything and pay proper attention to everything. The best part of performing well at the latter is not to ratchet up your anxiety with manufactured fears over something you should have relegated to a fact/skill (stalls) that should simply run in the background, along with the many other things which should also be doing so. Instead of being competent, and thus clearheaded, a preoccupation with being “afraid” of stalls is not a prescription for safe flight.

      • Steven
        Steven says:

        Ron, when I saw your substantive posting (above) I was impressed that you, too, are aware of the startle reflex and the Yerkes & Dodson law and their application here – so I posted my in-flight experience to reinforce the practical relevance of your mention of the studies (I also agree with all of your other excellent points, as well – and the more experienced, clear-thinking, and learned the reader, the more they will find to agree with your points, above).

        Thank you, Ron, for all of your time and great efforts towards toward aviation safety. You have put countess hours into your years of well-researched and polished safety seminars — which you have generously presented without charge — and for your other endeavors, all of which benefit the aviation community. Additionally, you have traveled at your own expense to present your seminars to pilots in areas far from your home base. The thoroughness you demonstrated in your writing (above, April 12, 2020 8:20 pm) is consistent with the thoroughness of your safety seminar research and presentations. Grateful, Steven

  34. Brian Lloyd
    Brian Lloyd says:

    Sometimes bad stuff happens. You may be very good at avoiding stalls but, frankly, upsets happen anyway. The inadvertant base-to-final stall/upset still happens. It claimed a friend of mine who was flying an Ercoupe. (Stalling and killing yourself in an Ercoupe?)

    Unintentional stalls happen. You can harp on Vref all you want to (I do and teach it to all my primary students) but that is not going to help the pilot deal with the unintentional stall that occurs from other factors. At that point what is going to save them is an instinctive response to reduce loading on the wing so that it is flying again and all the controls can then be used to recover back to level flight. This is why the FAA is now encouraging Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT).

    Mac, I believe you are a CFI. This means that you should probably know how a learned behavior becomes automatic and instinctive. Right. Practice. The way a behavior becomes automatic and instinctive is repetition. So, in the end, the way to innoculate a pilot so that recovery from upset and inadvertant stalls is to automatically unload when the aircraft stalls in a surprising fashion.

    I use accelerated stalls with all my students to teach this. I stall it and they recover. We do this from all attitudes. (I teach spins and aerobatics as well as UPRT.) We do this over and over until we can carry on a conversation about other things while they perform upset recovery instinctively.

    Angle of Attack awareness is a big part of all this but there isn’t a reasonable amount of time and space to add a whole article about that here. Suffice it to say, in order to stay away from the edges of the envelope, you need to know where those edges are. The way to do that is to step over the edge and then step back again, and then respect those edges now that one knows where they are.

  35. Dave
    Dave says:

    I would feel much safer flying with a pilot who has fully stalled a plane versus one who has only felt the buffeting from an approaching stall.
    In my opinion it’s better to know what to expect If an actual stall occurs. Let’s not fear stalls, let’s learn about stalls.

    1. What is a stall
    2. What causes a stall
    3. What a stall feels like
    4. How to recover from a stall
    5. How to avoid a stall

    I had a scary stall (solo) incident turn into a spin from a low altitude, I learned a lot about flying that day. It was only after a long talk with my instructor that I was going to make stalls my friend. Multiple trips to the practice area, and many stalls later, I actually enjoy stalls. 2000 flight hours later and I have a very healthy respect for stalls but I don’t fear them.

  36. Stephen Shore
    Stephen Shore says:

    As a pilot for almost 40 years, I can see the merit in alot of what this article advocates. GA pilots stall alot of airplanes every year and we lose alot of GA pilots every year from those stalls.

    I think, though, that pilots “stalling” an airplane is not the problem, it is the symptom that underlies the real problem, which is too many pilots with eroding (or never had them) skills or lacking judgement in certain critical phases of flight.

    If you fly in the military or for the airlines, you will see pilots trained in exacting and disciplined protocols – every pattern is flown the same, there is a protocol to communications, and the airplanes are maintained to an exact and high standard. It has been proven over time that discipline and the careful following of protocols is the safest and most efficient way to run an air force or an airline. As a pilot, if you are not up to the standards set forth, you are soon booted out the door.

    Compare that to the menagerie of pilots and airplanes that we see on any given weekend at any given GA airport. Some aircraft are not current in either maintenance or registration. Some pilots are flying without regard to FAA regulations. There is a huge variation in skill level and experience level among any population of GA pilots. And maybe more importantly, there is a big divergence in how pilots adhere or ignore recommended practices as outlined in the AIM. Just look at all the ways different pilots enter the pattern (or make radio calls) at a non-towered airport.

    Stalls occur because of sloppy flying. Most pilots never inadvertently enter a stall in their flying careers. Practicing stalls and stall recovery is fine, but if you enter a stall at less than pattern altitude turning base to final you are dead – no amount of practice is going to bail you out of a stall in a turn at a low altitude with not enough altitude to recover.

    Maybe we need to enforce the need to properly fly a pattern and understand how the airplane performs at such a slow speed in that pattern.

  37. John K.
    John K. says:

    Some great comments from people with a lot of experience, and some insight I can use. Thank you!

    I was never afraid of stalls (but only practiced them with a CFI), but I was afraid of spins. My fear came from lack of knowledge.

    I have been flying off and on for about 35 years, and have been working on getting back into flying after a 13-year hiatus. That lead me to watching a lot of videos and safety webinars (EAA, AOPA, FAA, MzeroA, and many others) and reading articles (AOPA Flight Training magazine and many more). Several times over the last 2 years I took dual instruction in a Cessna 170B (I’m a partner in a 170A), including a flight review 2 years ago and again a couple of months ago. We didn’t really focus on stalls this last time, but did do steep turns. At my request the CFI did a spin so I could experience one and learn about recovery. Scary AND intriguing!

    After reading Mac’s article and the comments (along with other items, below), I thought about what I wanted to do. Explore the envelope with a CFI? Perhaps take some aerobatic instruction? Just focus on precision flying? I believe precision flying is a necessary skill for myself and all other pilots. That means knowing the aircraft and its envelope and flight characteristics, and being able to instantly recognize and recover from unusual attitudes.

    I have a fond memory of my CFI giving me an unusual attitude recovery in the mid-1980s. Larry was an aerobatic competitor and judge, and he put me through the wringer. Close eyes, reach down “to find the pencil I dropped”, and then he messed with everything. After what seemed like full control excursions in the Piper Warrior, he said “your airplane”. It was running at high RPM, low airspeed (stall horn screaming), and what seemed like 90° bank. OK, level out, then I was to resume the original attitude, altitude, heading, and airspeed. Hmm, the trim wheel was off, the DG had been set wrong, and the radio was off frequency. Challenging and fun.

    In my 460 flight hours I experienced a 45° bank angle upset on short final in a Piper Comanche (luckily the CFI owner was flying), surprising wake turbulence in another traffic pattern, and a lot of unexpected turbulence en route at night in a Piper Archer.

    After reviewing the article, comments, and other materials, I made this plan:
    1. Review Owner’s Manual (our old plane does not have a POH or much in the way of performance data).
    2. Update checklists to add various speeds and emergency procedure details.
    3. Mark our airspeed gauge with Defined Minimum Maneuvering Speed.
    4. Check calibration of the stall warning system.
    5. Focus on precision flying with a CFI or check pilot, and continue using the FAA WINGS program and more to achieve and maintain proficiency.
    6. Get upset recovery training, including practicing stall and spin recovery with a CFI.
    7. Consider adding an Angle of Attack indicator.

    This short AOPA video gives simple advice for small trainer aircraft: PUSH! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mndhUBxmhU

    This AOPA article uses the PAVED memory aid to help with recovery on small aircraft. https://www.aopa.org/asf/ntsb/stall_spin.html

    As someone mentioned, the excellent FlightChops video with Dan Gryder has the concept of Defined Minimum Maneuvering Speed.

    Thanks Mac and insightful commenters!

  38. Peter N. Steinmetz
    Peter N. Steinmetz says:

    It strikes me the best thing would be real data, like we have for spins. How many people die in stall training and how many die in stalls? How many had which kind of training?

    Without those numbers, this is a question that one can argue over endlessly based on subjective impressions. I think Mac raised a good point to try and understand the data regarding.

  39. E cobb
    E cobb says:

    Simply the worst thing I’ve ever read. Completely irresponsible in my opinion. Maybe you should just be completely safe and just avoid flying all together?. The type of flying done by airline crews vs G. A. Pilots in small aircraft is entirely different. I teach stalls and spins to all of my primary students. More is better. I also fly bigger airplanes and am about to get into a sim to teach EET this morning. Please stop diminishing safety by fueling this current trend towards not training full stalls or spins in primary training. Stalls and spins are not scary. What is scary are guys like you. Do us all a favor and hang it up please. Or go get some stall and spin training to get over your fears.


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