Sunday, March 11, 2012
This is a fairly intense video. First of all - everyone lives, so that's nice.
This is a skydiving flight, normal right up until the pilot accidentally stalls the aircraft while slowing to let the jumpers out. The aircraft then spins, and while hilarity most definitely does not ensue, at least the cheesy soundtrack helps keep the mood light.
Looks like the pilot wasn't familiar with spin recovery. For those of you who aren't, if you ever happen to be sitting up in the cockpit and your view looks like the view of the guys in the airplane, maybe do this:
1. Neutralize the controls, ie move the control column to the neutral position, wings level.
2. Apply full rudder in the opposite direction of the spin. If you are spinning to the left, stomp on the right rudder and hold your foot to the floor until rotation stops.
3. You may need to check forward on the controls a wee bit to break the stall.
4. Once rotation stops, level the wings and ease out of the resulting dive, reducing power if necessary once above stall speed. Remember to ease out of the dive rather than reefing back on the controls and risking a secondary stall or airframe overstress.
You may notice that the magic ingredient is basically opposite rudder - your ailerons aren't gonna work so hot because in order to be spinning in the first place, at least one of the wings is stalled - thus the aileron on that wing isn't going to be very effective.
One thing: Some planes don't recover from spins, so you have to focus on not allowing them to ever spin in the first place. Other planes have non-standard stall / spin recovery techniques, so please be sure of the requirements of your particular airbeast when it comes to stall / spin recovery technique. It's not that hard, but it can save your life.
While I'm rambling on about stall / spin recovery, one of the fun things we do during our recurrent simulator training sessions is that we stall the airplane at night when we are down to minimums on a circling approach. It's an easy scenario and in my world that's one of the few times when the risk of an unintentional stall / spin is higher than zero.
What that means is we set the plane up to circle around an airport when we are only a few hundred feet above the ground, and we put our landing gear down and our flaps mostly down, just like they would be when we are landing. Then we fly parallel to the runway (downwind) and set the throttles to 50% or so, then wait. After a few seconds of deceleration, the plane stalls and it's up to us to get her flying again before we contact the planet a few hundred feet below us. The simulated planet that is - we would never try out a scenario like this in a real airplane. Anyway, stall recovery is a lot more visceral when you see buildings right below you than when we are at 5,000' (the normal minimum altitude for practicing stalls / spins) and it certainly motivates me to act quickly. The sim hasn't killed me yet, but it can certainly raise the hair on the back of my neck when the operator feels like loading me up to watch me sweat.
In our Citations we recover from most stall scenarios by just adding power, but with the gear and flaps down the plane is generating a lot of drag, and it takes a few seconds for the engines to kick up enough power to overcome it, so we can still lose a few hundred feet on a complicated stall recovery. I've had the radar altimeter in the sim call out "Ten" (feet above ground) on a recovery before, which certainly adds an element of intensity to the procedure.
If you have access to a flight sim, try stalling when low to the ground and then recovering. After all, isn't that when prompt and proper stall recovery is most important. Obviously nobody sane would ever do that in real life - simulated earth is a lot more forgiving than the real thing. I feel like a dope for even writing that, but I would hate for someone to read this post and then decide to do low altitude stalls on the basis of it and then have their next of kin sue me.
Taking our new plane out for a long run on Monday and Tuesday, so that will be cool.