Pilot Journal
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

You Spin Me Round!

Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety takes the unusual out of unusual attitudes

The challenge of a loop is to fly by control position, not pressure. Pull the stick back and hold it in the same spot (not necessarily an easy task, since the pressures on the stick are constantly changing) until you’ve made 360 degrees of pitch change and you’re back in the same position you started at. To prove that pilots do have control while in a stall, Freelove shows me how to fly a loop while stalled throughout its entirety. (Later, while practicing a regular loop, I accidentally stalled but was able to recognize it, immediately correct and continue the loop. This was a far cry from my previous worry that a wing drop might lead to sudden disaster; no longer did it feel like a big deal!)

To execute a ballistic aileron roll, pull the nose up 20 degrees above the horizon, release any back pressure on the stick and add a bunch of aileron—the world becomes a momentary blur, revolving around the nose of the airplane. My favorite maneuver, hammerheads, allows you to accelerate wildly while pointing straight down at the ground before pulling the airplane back to level. We also practice Immelmans and Cuban eights, both built from the fundamentals learned in loops, rolls and hammerheads.

Not So Unusual
After “beating up” the aerobatic box, upset recovery feels a bit mundane—not something I ever imagined I’d say. Freelove teaches me the wings-level technique of “unload and roll”: neutralize elevator and use full aileron with coordinated rudder to roll upright. I close my eyes while he puts the airplane in unusual attitudes, but nothing feels unusual about it anymore. No matter which direction we’re pointed—at the sky, the ground, somewhere between—the situational awareness is there and I roll level. The instinct to pull back is no more—I’ve been reprogrammed!

There are six basic types of spin modes: normal, accelerated (steep) and flat—during which you’re either upright or inverted.
Recovery in the Pitts is as follows:
1 Power to idle
2 Full opposite rudder
3 Stick neutral
[ Rotation stops ]
4 Rudder neutral
5 Pull out of
the dive
6 Full power
[ Recovery
complete ]
It’s critical that you study the owner’s manual for each type of airplane you fly and that you know the specific spin-recovery technique that’s best for the aircraft. The emergency procedures section of the operating manual isn’t something to cram in your memory just to get through a checkout with a local instructor—it’s the most important section to have full knowledge of, as it’ll keep you alive when “stuff goes wrong.”


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