Back in October 2019 I wrote about some perceived issues with the performance rules in the new Part 91.

See my AOPA Australia article here and the relevant posts on this website.

The final rule differed from the draft however the issues remained. As before let’s limit the scope of the discussion to small single-engine aeroplanes certified to FAR 23.

In that article I finished with the commentPerhaps my opinion is incorrect so I look forward to an Advisory Circular on this subject.”

Now we have it! In October 2021 CASA published two relevant documents:

  1. ACCEPTABLE MEANS OF COMPLIANCE AND GUIDANCE MATERIAL General operating and flight rules Part 91 of CASR
  2. ADVISORY CIRCULAR AC 91-02 v1.0 Guidelines for aeroplanes with MTOW not exceeding 5 700 kg – suitable places to take off and land

I am going to discuss the situation in two parts. The first being the rules and the second being practical flight operations. The good news is that CASA has relieved my concerns with the new rules by publishing these documents.

PART 1: Take-off and Landing Flight Performance Rules

I recall the main points of my 2019 article:

  • Any operating limitations are explicitly stated in the AFM.
  • The scope of the flight performance information provided will vary depending on the particular amendment of FAR 23 that applied to the type. Only newly certified aircraft will have performance data for all conditions within the operational limitations of the aircraft. For aircraft certified earlier the range of conditions provided for flight performance does not limit the operations.
  • The requirement to only use data from the AFM, the manufacturer’s data manual (if any), or other data approved for the purpose. This is particularly onerous so we’ll start with this and see how the two CASA references above deal with it.

I had suggested a couple of questions to ask. The first was:

Will CASA be providing guidance in the form of an AC to include aircraft with an older certification basis, or no certification basis, where the performance information provided is quite sparse? Only aircraft certified to later amendments of FAR 23 were required to provide performance data for all conditions within the operational limitations of the aircraft.

Reference 1 handballs 91.795 Take-off performance and 91.800 Landing performance directly to reference 2 however that reference is aimed at 91.410 Use of aerodromes. There is only this passing reference to:

“Regulations 91.795 and 91.800 stipulate that an aircraft must not take off or land above the maximum all up weight of the aircraft from the AFM (or equivalent), or a more limiting weight due to the aircraft performance requirements specified in the Part 91 Manual of Standards.”

The sections of those regulations which considered particularly onerous are not mentioned at all by reference 2 and it goes along with my own view of how the FAR 23 certification rules for flight performance should be applied to operations. Here are the relevant extracts:

“For aeroplanes with MTOW not exceeding 5700 kg where the information available to the pilot may be non-specific or incomplete, the use of suitable safety factors to mitigate these risks will maximise the safety outcome. …. The different certification standards specify what information must be provided in the AFM/pilot operating handbook (POH).”

That is as far as it goes on the subject of the 61.795 and 91.800 rules so it is quite sensible and consistent with my views. Reference 2 has much good guidance on how a pilot is to take what performance information is made available in the aircraft manuals and “If the AFM has no such guidance, it is recommended that pilots apply the allowances relevant to the circumstance described and shown in Tables 2 and 3.”

I had earlier stated that I like to use the UK CAA’s Safety Sense Leaflet 07 on Aeroplane Performance and the AC is very similar. Tables 2 and 3 of the AC provide information on the effect of pressure altitude, ambient temperature, tailwind, runway slope and runway surface.

PART 2: Take-off and Landing Flight Performance Application

Recalling the main points of my 2019 article:

  • There are different amendments of FAR 23, for example, earlier versions required only that take-off and landing may not require exceptional pilot skill and later ones “not require more than average pilot skill”. There is a difference in the way a test pilot addresses each!

My second question was: The Part 91 MOS 24.02 states “You must determine the aeroplane performance from 1 of the following” then lists the AFM, manufacturer’s data manual or data approved under Part 21. Does this mean that only data from any of those three sources may be used or may other data be used to supplement what is in there? For example, the Piper Archer III POH states “Effects of conditions not considered on the charts must be evaluated by the pilot, such as the effect of soft or grass runway surface on takeoff and landing performance …”.

Reference 2 emphasises that “Regulation 91.095 requires the pilot to operate in accordance with the ‘aircraft flight manual instructions’.” So, stuff must be evaluated by the pilot and this seems to trump the rule in the Part 91 MOS that I was concerned about.

Reference 2 answers my question very well and has excellent guidance on the subject. Rather than discuss the content I will just consider two different examples of aircraft that I had mentioned earlier.

The Piper Archer III POH states “Effects of conditions not considered on the charts must be evaluated by the pilot, such as the effect of soft or grass runway surface on takeoff and landing performance …”. It is also important to note that the Archer III POH does not allow extrapolation beyond the limits of the charts so you must not take-off above an ambient temperature of 50°C for example.

So, if we want to take an Archer III into a grass strip with a slope then we may do it by applying the allowances in Tables 2 and 3 of the AC. All straightforward.

My second example is the 8KCAB Decathlon. The latest variant of the 8KCAB is the Xtreme Decathlon which was certified in December, 2012 and, unlike earlier variants, the AFM incorporates all of the performance data. The approved maximum outside air temperature limit is 120 deg F (49 deg C). The airfield performance data includes the effect of tailwinds and different runway surfaces.

Take-off and landing performance is only provided up to a maximum temperature of 104 deg F (40 deg C) as specifically required by FAR 23. 40 deg C is simply as far as the provided data goes. Pilots may choose to go flying when the temperature is up to 49 deg C .

The Super Decathlon variant of the 8KCAB was certified to an early version of FAR 23 and is still in current production. It retains the same take-off and landing distance data as the original from the 1960s. The absence of data for older types is not necessarily a limit on the operation due to the certification basis of the type. Certification flight testing is expensive and there is no requirement for the manufacturer to provide additional information for operators. The manual notes that

“This data is to inform the pilot what he can expect from the aircraft in the way of performance and to assist in flight planning.” It goes on. “Good pilot judgement must be used under all conditions …”.

Let’s consider a couple of typical operating situations:

An example similar to the Piper Archer III example above with an ambient temperature of 49 deg C going into a grass strip with a slope. The Super Decathlon has no relevant limitations in the AFM which would be a show-stopper. As with my first example we may do it by applying the allowances in Tables 2 and 3 of the AC. The tables include the effect of temperatures too. All straightforward again.

How about a typical day at my local towered airport where there is a slight tailwind? The manual simply states that it provides nil information about the effect on distance however the AC does now provide such data. A typical new POH may only provide for a small tailwind of up to 5 kts. The old Australian CAA “P” Charts, including that for the Decathlon, provided the same maximum tailwind. All straightforward again.

Again, tables 2 and 3 of the AC provide for the effect of a tailwind

The AC states: “The performance of every certificated aircraft has been evaluated as part of the certification process.” That is not true of types certified some years ago such as the Super Decathlon!

It also states: “… for the certification of landing distance, the requirements for the test are: …. the aeroplane must approach at not less than 1.3 times the stall speed in the landing configuration.” That is good but only true for later versions of FAR 23. The landing approach speed specified for the Super Decathlon is 52 kts which is very close to the stall speed of 49 kts.

Incidentally, the AFM for the Xtreme Decathlon has sensible airspeeds for take-off and landing as required by the later FAR 23.

The AC notes “Importantly, it is unlikely that a normal pilot can replicate the testing performance during routine flying conditions. The likelihood decreases even further when flying conditions become more challenging.” That is especially true of the Super Decathlon as FAR 23 at the time only required that it “must be able to be landed safely and come to a stop without exceptional piloting skill”. Later versions of FAR 23 changed to the more reasonable “The landing may not require more than average piloting skill”.

One of the most important aspects of replicating that test performance is to achieve the specified airspeeds. The test pilot has an accurately and recently calibrated airspeed indicator whereas a typical aeroplane may be out by as much as a couple of kts regardless of how accurately the pilot is flying. CASA’s flying tolerances for a short field landing are -1/+5 kts so an acceptable approach speed could easily be 7 kts faster than the test pilot so you’ve already increased the landing distance by 15% just because of that.

If you are flying a Super Decathlon and want to use a sensible approach speed of 1.3 Vs then you’ll be even faster. You may like to read this additional reference: USA FAA AC 91-79 Mitigating the Risks of a Runway Overrun Upon Landing. The effect of excess speed is explained on page 3 with a simple way of providing for it which you may like to use for the Super Decathlon. That AC considers other factors which push distances achieved by the average piklot way above the book figures.

CASA’s AC recommends a minimum safety factor of an extra 15% of distance however I prefer the higher factors of the UK CAA’s Safety Sense Leaflet 07, Aeroplane Performance.

I should mention that CASA still requires, per their Part 61 MOS, pilots undergoing a tailwheel endorsement in the Super Decathlon to use that approach speed of only 7% above the stall speed and achieve distances better than stated in the manual. That is without that 115% safety factor!

Finally, we may no longer use the declared density charts apparently as we must use the actual pressure altitude and temperature on the day. That’s a pity as the Super Decathlon provides airfield performance data up to very high density altitudes so would easily cover that very high ambient temperature at lower altitudes.


UPDATE 12th October 2021: AC 91-02v1.0, Guidelines for aeroplanes with MTOW not exceeding 5 700 kg – suitable places to take off and land, issued in October 2021 answers  the question!

My earlier articles on the performance requirements of Part 91 were based on the draft so, as it is only a few months before it takes effect, we should consider it again. Being a former flight performance engineer, I like to take an interest in numbers so let’s discuss take-off and landing performance as required by 91.795 and 91.800.

We’ll discuss take-off performance in some detail and just touch on the similar landing performance requirements.

Perhaps my opinion is incorrect so I look forward to an Advisory Circular on this subject or other clarification from CASA. Some suggested questions to ask:

  1. The Part 91 MOS 24.02 states “You must determine the aeroplane performance from 1 of the following” then lists the AFM, manufacturer’s data manual or data approved under Part 21. Does this mean that only data from any of those three sources may be used or may other data be used to supplement what is in there? For example, the Piper Archer III POH states “Effects of conditions not considered on the charts must be evaluated by the pilot, such as the effect of soft or grass runway surface on takeoff and landing performance …”.
  2. Will CASA be providing guidance in the form of an AC to include aircraft with an older certification basis, or no certification basis, where the performance information provided is quite sparse? Only aircraft certified to later amendments of FAR 23 were required to provide performance data for all conditions within the operational limitations of the aircraft. Two examples:
    • The 8KCAB Standard Decathlon has take-off performance data provided only for a Sensenich 74DM6S8-0-56 propeller however many examples in Australia have the coarser pitch -60 propeller with worse take-off performance.
    • The 8KCAB Xtreme Decathlon has a limitation of maximum outside air temperature of 49 deg C however airfield performance information is only provided to 40 deg C.

Learn to Turn

On September 8th at 3:30 pm EDT (that is 5:30 am Australian EST) — Aviation Performance Solutions (APS) broadcast a live discussion with Rich Stowell about Learn to Turn on LinkedIn. You can view the video at

Ozaeros is supporting this program with information feely available at

The following is from Rich Stowell on 10th September 2021:

Today is the official release of “Learn to Turn,” a free program that takes a stick and rudder approach to help reduce the frequency of loss of control accidents. Sponsored by Avemco Insurance Company and Hartzell Propeller Inc., the program is anchored by a 98-page digital booklet. Supporting assets include a 42-page graphics supplement to facilitate classroom discussion, a 28-minute webinar recording, a 12-minute video, targeted training exercises, and a pilot survey.

With more than 30 years of experience providing spin, emergency maneuver, and aerobatic training, I’ve found that through no fault of their own, light airplane pilots generally have been misinformed and undertrained regarding turn dynamics. As a result, too many continue to lose control of their airplanes. So in addition to academic content, “Learn to Turn” offers training exercises designed to improve basic flying skills and increase awareness of the consequences of our control inputs.”

Topics include Bottom Line Up Front; Program Structure; The Problem and A Solution; Operational Errors; What the Specialists See; Basic Object Motion; The Primary Controls; Horizontal, Oblique, and Vertical Turns; Accelerated Stalls; Excellence in Airmanship; and Training Mindset and Exercises.

A coalition of thirty early supporters is sharing and promoting the content already: Adventure Flying Services, Anderson Aviation, AOPA Air Safety Institute, Arizona Aviation Services, ATO Cirrus Aircraft Management, Aviation Performance Solutions, Canyon Flying, Central Washington University, Community Aviation, CP Aviation, Experimental Aircraft Association, FAA Safety Team, Gallatin College Montana State University, Gold Seal Online Ground School, Idaho Division of Aeronautics, International Aerobatic Club, McMurray Aero Safety Training, National Association of Flight Instructors, Ozaeros, Patty Wagstaff Airshows, Recreational Aviation Foundation, Redbird Flight Simulations, Rod Machado, Smokehouse Pilots Club, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, Specialized Aero Works, Spread Aviation, Stick & Rudder Aviation, Treasure Valley Community College, and Utah Valley University.

Pilots and especially instructors are encouraged to use “Learn to Turn” to gain more knowledge and experience with all aspects of turning flight. While the e-booklet is available from many of the supporters listed above, all the program assets can be accessed at Further, pilots who participate in “Learn to Turn” can qualify for a five percent discount on their annual Avemco insurance premium through the company’s Safety Rewards Program.

The AOPA Air Safety Institute will be hosting the Wings-approved webinar, “Implementing Learn to Turn” with Stowell on Thursday, October 21st at 7:00 pm EDT.


Being an engineer I like to take an interest in numbers so let’s discuss one of the “matters to be checked before take-off”: take-off and landing performance. Let’s limit the scope of the discussion to small single-engine aeroplanes certified to FAR 23 and that is important for several reasons:

  • There is nil requirement for any performance limitations and any operating limitations must be specified in the airplane flight manual (look in the limitations section).
  • FAR 23 specifies the minimum performance information which must be provided to the pilot and that depended on which version of FAR 23 the airplane was certified to. Manufacturers don’t continually revise their manuals for airplanes that were built many years ago, especially if it was a different company that built them under the same type certificate.
  • There are different amendments of FAR 23, for example, earlier versions required only that take-off and landing may not require exceptional pilot skill and later ones “not require more than average pilot skill”. There is a difference in the way a test pilot addresses each!

The Sept-Oct 2002 issue of Flight Safety Magazine included an article which addressed these issues:

“….. It is tempting to simply say the whole episode could have been avoided if the pilot had consulted his aircraft’s take-off performance charts … However, it is unrealistic to assume that all light-aircraft pilots will calculate the exact take-off and landing distance required before every flight. ….… A word of warning about aircraft performance charts. ….. the production of uniquely Australian charts ceased and pilots …… calculate performance using information supplied by manufacturers. 

Aircraft manufacturers’ performance charts do not include built-in safety factors and in most cases reflect best-possible performance achieved with: Highly experienced test pilots …”. All true!


CASA’s VFRG gives the current rules for take-off and landing distance determination in checking the maximum take-off weight.

“it is acceptable to base all take-off and landing weight limitation calculations on declared meteorological conditions …. alone and you may only be required to determine weight limitations three times per year (for summer, winter and autumn/spring seasons).” i.e. the current rules give that choice of simply using the declared density height at your location.

Let’s use a new Piper Archer III as an example. The POH states: “The performance charts are unfactored and do not make any allowance for varying degrees of pilot proficiency or mechanical deterioration of the aircraft.” It was certified to CAR 3 (which preceded FAR 23) plus a small selection of requirements from earlier versions of FAR 23. It seems to me that the POH is trying to say that it will not be easy for the average pilot to achieve the take-off and landing distances quoted.

The Piper Archer III POH goes on to state: “This performance, however, can be duplicated by following the stated procedures in a properly maintained airplane.” So it is possible to achieve those distances if you nail those airspeeds and your ASI has nil error. Of course, the airframe must be in reasonable condition and the engine must be developing rated power. Check the slow idle RPM as anything higher than Lycoming’s recommendation will lengthen the landing distance.

The usual CASA tolerance of up to 5 kts over the specified speeds will result in a significant increase in distance and there is no margin in the POH chart to cater for it. The FAA’s excellent Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge Chapter 11, Aircraft Performance states that “ten percent excess airspeed would increase the takeoff distance 21 percent”! It is worthwhile reading that chapter to fully understand performance data in the POH for an American aircraft.

The first thing that many pilots would notice about this is that it is different than what they used in their theory course. As noted in that 2002 Flight Safety Magazine article those uniquely Australian “P Charts” were withdrawn many years ago.

The Archer 3 POH usefully states: “Effects of conditions not considered on the charts must be evaluated by the pilot, such as the effect of soft or grass runway surface on takeoff and landing performance …”.

Those “P Charts” included the effect of different runway surfaces and runway slope but the Piper chart above does not have that information.

The current CAO 20.7.4 allows us to comply with the requirements of the POH so how does a pilot make that evaluation? I like to use the UK CAA’s Safety Sense Leaflet 07 on Aeroplane Performance which you may find online.

I recommend that you read it now then return to my discussion as it has much good information and guidance.

The UK CAA is familiar with the issues regarding American performance data which I have outlined so this Leaflet recommends appropriate margins for you to use. The good news is that you don’t need to do work your way through the calculations in that Leaflet as it is incorporated in the GASCo Performance Calculator for your iPad or GASCo Performance mini for your iPhone.

If you are operating an aircraft with performance information similar to that of the Archer at a grass runway you could perhaps use that app as it will give data using a similar method to the old Australian “P Charts” plus a good safety margin. Disclaimer – read my later comments about this app below!

It is important to note that the Archer III POH does not allow extrapolation beyond the limits of the charts so you must not take-off above an ambient temperature of 50°C for example.

The manual for my Super Decathlon instead has guidance such as “Good pilot judgement must be used under all conditions …”. The absence of data for older types is not necessarily a limit on the operation.


CASA’s new plain English guide is supposed to be easily understandable however you really need to stop to think about it all as there are some significant differences from the current rules.

“Before take-off, you must complete the following checks.” I think that is very clear – we must do the checks stated next.

“… the aircraft’s take-off, en-route and landing performance capabilities meet the performance requirements required by, or under, the regulations for the circumstances and conditions expected during the flight.”

OK, so we must check take-off and landing distances for the specific situation on the day. Therefore, we may not use the declared density altitudes described in the current VFRG.

It goes on: “You must determine the performance capability of the aeroplane or rotorcraft at the take-off weight, and you must not exceed the weight limitation contained in or derived from either:

          the AFM

          the manufacturer’s data manual (if any), or

          other data approved for the purpose”

As you learnt in your pilot theory course, you must determine that the take-off and landing distances required are no greater than the distances available.

The Archer III has that information in the AFM (which is incorporated in the POH). My Super Decathlon has some information in the manufacturer’s manual so neither checked nor approved by the airworthiness authority and therefore warrants every bit of the safety margin recommended by Leaflet 07.


The big new issue that I see is if you are operating from a grass runway or a wet runway or a runway with some slope then you probably don’t have that data in the POH. The data for my Super Decathlon and some other types also do not have any information on the effect of a slight tailwind.

Those old uniquely Australian “P Charts” did include the effect of a tailwind as well as runway slope and different runway surfaces. CASA withdrew their approval for them many years ago. They are old so are simply not valid for many aeroplanes built since then.

The UK CAA’s Leaflet 07 is not approved by CASA that I am aware of.

The iPhone app is not approved as it clearly states that it has “been drawn from” the Leaflet but “a number of assumptions have been made” and “this product is not certified as, nor intended as, a flight planning tool.”

If the appropriate data is not supplied by the manufacturer then, per the new Part 91, we must have “other data approved for the purpose”.


I accept that it is in plain English and it is a guide to what is in the regulations: “By following this guide, it is expected you will comply with the aviation regulations“. However, the regulations are much more prescriptive and onerous than the equivalent regulations in the USA so do not fit well with aircraft manuals developed for the American regulations as they were many years ago.

It is plain to me that after March 2021 I must change my flying operations as I do not have “other data approved for the purpose” of:

  • Determining take-off and landing distance on a grass airstrip.
  • Determining take-off and landing distance with a slight downwind component. When the Tower advises me there is a very small downwind component or that the runway is wet I must decline the takeoff clearance. If inbound then I would be obliged to declare an emergency.

Perhaps my opinion is incorrect so I look forward to an Advisory Circular on this subject. “Advisory Circulars are intended to provide advice and guidance to illustrate a means, but not necessarily the only means, of complying with the Regulations, or to explain certain regulatory requirements by providing informative, interpretative and explanatory material.” That should sort us out as I do not see any means for many of us to comply with Part 91.

Perhaps the intended means of compliance will be to bring back the unique Australian “P” Charts and get them approved at an enormous cost?

Safety Update – (Incipient) Spin Recovery Training

The Melbourne Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society Australian Division held their first Flight Training Forum on 24 October 2019 with the theme of Flight Training Now and the Coming Challenges .

David’s slides are available online here for information.

He spoke about the CASA email of 23 May 2019 which is copied below with some additional information and some interim advice to flight instructors.

“Safety update: spin recovery training

The recent ATSB investigation into a fatal accident involving a Diamond DA-40 found the conduct of advanced stall training was a contributing factor to the cause of the accident. It also highlighted that there can be varying interpretations of an ‘incipient spin’, and this has led to aircraft not approved for intentional spins being used for incipient spin training and assessment.

The release of the findings and the safety advisory notice are a timely reminder of the hazards of conducting an activity in an aircraft for which it is not certified.

Flight training operators, their Heads of Operations and Flight Examiners are obliged to ensure that aircraft used for training, flight reviews and testing purposes are certified for the manoeuvres being performed.

Incipient spins and training requirements

The conduct of an incipient spin in an aeroplane that is not approved for spinning places the aeroplane outside the normal operating envelope into the safety margins provided by the aeroplane certification standards for airframe structural integrity and demonstrated ability to recover from the manoeuvre.

CASA is developing further guidance material in relation to the conduct of incipient spins and advanced stalls and how to meet the flight training and testing standards in the Part 61 manual of standards. We expect to finalise these over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, please contact if you have any questions or require clarification.”

Stalls in Turns

Back in the days before Part 61 there was a Day VFR Syllabus for pilot training which included “Recovers from stall during a turn” and “Recover from incipient spin”. Note: “incipient spin entry (stall with wing drop)”. There was also “Recovers at incipient spin stage during a turn”. So, it was quite clear that pilots undergoing basic training must perform stalls in a turn.

Underpinning knowledge included:

“Explain symptoms of the approach to the stall and the stall in the aircraft type flown
• Explain the relationship between angle of attack and the stall
• Explain the effects of weight, ‘g-force’ and angle of bank on the stall speed
• Explain the potential dangers of unbalanced flight at slow speed
• Explain the principles associated with the position of the stick/control column and the point of stall
• State the symmetrical and rolling ‘g-force’ limitations of the aircraft being operated”

So, why couldn’t pilots tell me the symptoms of a stall ( as distinct from symptoms of the approach to the stall)? Why didn’t they know about the relationship between stick position and angle of attack?

Why did so many pilots tell me that they had never done a stall in a turn?

“Sideslipping turn
• Adjusts bank angle to turn through minimum heading change of 90° at
constant airspeed using sideslip”

I did not encounter any pilot trainee who did that yet it was a clear requirement of the syllabus.

All of the above elements would have been included in the flying school’s pilot training syllabus and the pilot would have signed that they were done and the instructor would have signed for that person to have achieved the required level of competency.

All of the above is really just background information now because we have Part 61 and the associated Manual of Standards so let’s have a look at some of that.

Now we have more stalls to do!

Pretty simple – it is part of the required syllabus:

And there are some underpinning knowledge requirements too:

Those sideslipping turns are still in the syllabus:

And, of course, expect to do some of the above in a flight review per:So why do pilots come to me saying that they haven’t done this stuff? It is not specifically required on the RPL test form but not excluded and perhaps examiners choose not to do them on a test. Flying schools would therefore not emphasise them during training.

My opinion is that it should be emphasised in training as there are too many fatal accidents arising from a stall in a turn. The only way to get flying schools to emphasise it is for examiners to include it in the RPL and PPL tests.

Finally, just to round off your awareness of stall behaviour get your instructor to demonstrate a stall in a skidded turn. You should already know what to expect from the above underpinning knowledge explained during your basic flight training. But just don’t get any instructor to show you – it will have to be someone who has a spin and/or aerobatic training endorsement – try one and you will see what I mean.


Flying on a Hot Day

At the Vic RAPAC 2017-1 meeting there was this information presented by the CASA representative: 

Let’s keep this discussion simple for now – and just a discussion as I haven’t finished my reading and analysis.

CAO 20.7.4 has performance limitations for small aeroplanes regarding takeoff, landing and climb. Let’s just consider takeoff distance and takeoff climb in a Super Decathlon for this discussion in the context of a day where the temperature is just over 40 deg C.

We must determine the takeoff distance required to ensure that it is less than the takeoff distance available. We may use approved declared conditions instead of actual pressure height and temperature – the CAO simply states that without stating its applicability.

We get charts of density altitude like this one: 

Performance information for the Super Decathlon is not in the Approved Airplane Flight Manual as it was certified to an early version of FAR 23 so refer to the manufacturer’s Operating Manual.

i.e. one of the premises of CASA’s statement above does not apply – there is no relevant limitation in the AFM. The only performance item which suggests a limit is the service ceiling of 16,000 ft.

Takeoff distance is provided for temperatures from 0 deg C to 40 deg C and pressure altitudes from zero to 6000 ft. Could we use the declared density altitude chart? Not too hard to derive takeoff distance as a function of density altitude but quite some time is required to do it.

The takeoff distance table has a simple statement for the effect of wind. Data is for a level hard runway. It specifically states that it is not applicable for grass fields however what if we are operating from a sloping grass field?

The UK CAA has a very sensible Safety Sense Leaflet 7C on aeroplane performance at

It has good advice about the effect of such things as grass and slope but can we use it? The same information was published in the Sept-Oct 2002 issue of CASA’s Flight Safety Magazine – can we use it?

Let’s move on to takeoff climb performance per CAO 20.7.4. In the takeoff configuration at takeoff safety speed the aeroplane must have an ability to achieve a climb gradient of 6%. Absolutely nil data on this in the Super Decathlon manuals.

There is some information on en-route climb performance but only at the speed for maximum rate of climb and only at the standard temperature.

A note in the Exposure Draft of Part 91 (MOS for 91.1035 Aircraft Performance): “It is the intention that CAOs 20.7.4. …. will be subject of a project to review them and provide guidance material in the form of an AC in the future. Much of the content of the CAOs contain either certification standards or outdated information. CASA expects pilots to operate in accordance with the aircraft flight manual (AFM). All performance information in the AFM is produced and complies with the aeroplane certification standards.”

Well ……

My Spin Crusade

It has been about 50 years since I did my first spin in an aeroplane, about 35 years since I started teaching spins to other pilots and about 15 years since I started teaching other instructors how to teach spins.

In the last ten to twenty years in Australia there have been two significant and related improvements to the knowledge associated with spinning. The first is the internet – before Google it was just so difficult to get good information. The flight manuals mandated by CASA’s predecessor were to a fixed template of limited scope which did not include information on spin recovery procedures. The flight manual developed by the manufacturer overseas and approved by the FAA, if from the USA, was required to be discarded.

How lucky was I to have the opportunity to fly a brand new Pitts S-2A in the ’80s. It came out of the box with its original flight manual, the first time I had seen one despite flying Pitts for about ten years. We had some handling notes based on the Pitts Owners and Service Manual plus that silly Australian-specific flight manual. (In another article later I will go into more detail as to why it was silly.) Guess which was the only document which described the recovery technique from a flat spin? This was in the days long before the Beggs-Mueller technique. I’ll never forget one unintentional spin from a lomcevak in practice for an airshow “why doesn’t this stop spinning” I was thinking. When I flew the airshow the next day I flew that lomcevak at quite a much higher altitude.

Flying schools were required to provide pilots with handling notes which were “accepted” by the local office of CASA’s predecessor – there was no standard so the content was variable – even for the same type between different flying schools. The text of handling notes would often conflict with the original flight manual! There were some generic POHs available for sale for the more common types but pilots, of simple types especially, were not directed to them. These were the days before personal computers so every document had to be laboriously created and printed.

Finally, around 2000, CASA changed the flight manual system to discard the Australian-specific manuals and revert to the original. However many owners found it difficult to acquire flight manuals applicable to aeroplanes 20 to 30 years old by then and gave up. I still see a lot of aerobatic aircraft with the old Australian-specific manuals or the wrong manual of some sort – importantly, the aircraft does not have the correct flight manual which is one of the documents legally required – and it is important.

Over these years I have become concerned with the number of spin endorsed pilots who don’t know the correct spin recovery technique. The number of instructors with spin training endorsements who do not know the correct spin recovery technique makes me angry. People whisper in my ear about their scary experience when a spin takes a very long time to recover and I ask what technique they use – when they tell me I respond with “You are very lucky that you did not die using that technique!”

CASA’s Flight Instructor Manual is quite clear:
“To recover, first ensure that the throttle is closed, ailerons neutral and the direction of turn identified. This is followed by application of full opposite rudder. After a brief pause ease the control column forward progressively until the spinning stops. Centralize the rudder and ease gently out of the resulting steep dive, levelling the wings.”

The FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook is more comprehensive:
“In the absence of the manufacturer’s recommended spin recovery procedures and techniques, the following spin recovery procedures are recommended.
Step 1—REDUCE THE POWER (THROTTLE) TO IDLE. Power aggravates the spin characteristics. It usually results in a flatter spin attitude and increased rotation rates.
Step 2—POSITION THE AILERONS TO NEUTRAL. Ailerons may have an adverse effect on spin recovery. Aileron control in the direction of the spin may speed up the rate of rotation and delay the recovery. Aileron control opposite the direction of the spin may cause the down aileron to move the wing deeper into the stall and aggravate the situation. The best procedure is to ensure that the ailerons are neutral.
Step 3—APPLY FULL OPPOSITE RUDDER AGAINST THE ROTATION. Make sure that full (against the stop) opposite rudder has been applied.
Step 4—APPLY A POSITIVE AND BRISK, STRAIGHT FORWARD MOVEMENT OF THE ELEVATOR CONTROL FORWARD OF THE NEUTRAL TO BREAK THE STALL. This should be done immediately after full rudder application. The forceful movement of the elevator will decrease the excessive angle of attack and break the stall. The controls should be held firmly in this position. When the stall is “broken,” the spinning will stop.
Step 5—AFTER SPIN ROTATION STOPS, NEUTRALIZE THE RUDDER. If the rudder is not neutralized at this time, the ensuing increased airspeed acting upon a deflected rudder will cause a yawing or skidding effect. Slow and overly cautious control movements during spin recovery must be avoided. In certain cases it has been found that such movements result in the airplane continuing to spin indefinitely, even with anti-spin inputs. A brisk and positive technique, on the other hand, results in a more positive spin recovery.
Step 6—BEGIN APPLYING BACK-ELEVATOR PRESSURE TO RAISE THE NOSE TO LEVEL FLIGHT. Caution must be used not to apply excessive back-elevator pressure after the rotation stops. Excessive back-elevator pressure can cause a secondary stall and result in another spin. Care should be taken not to exceed the “G” load limits and airspeed limitations during recovery. If the flaps and/or retractable landing gear are extended prior to the spin, they should be retracted as soon as possible after spin entry.
It is important to remember that the above spin recovery procedures and techniques are recommended for use only in the absence of the manufacturer’s procedures. Before any pilot attempts to begin spin training, that pilot must be familiar with the procedures provided by the manufacturer for spin recovery.”

I have added the bold to some of the above text so let’s consider those items further.

The spin recovery procedure described is generic and it is essential to use the procedure provided by the manufacturer – remember that they have undertaken substantial flight tests to determine the behaviour in a spin and to prove the recovery technique. To emphasise this, all pilots, especially all spin instructors should read the ATSB’s report of the 2014 accident to a Chipmunk at

The first four steps in the FAA’s Handbook are identical to the NASA Standard Spin Recovery Method (see AIAA Paper 86-2597) which has been distilled by Rich Stowell into the PARE® mnemonic.

All four actions of PARE® must be done for the spin to stop. There are some other actions afterwards.

It is particularly annoying to see stuff like the following text on a website such as
“Recovery procedures are specific to the aircraft flown and are found in the pilot operating handbook of each aircraft. In light aircraft, the spin recovery procedures follow a typical pattern and can be remembered by the common acronym PARE®.
P – Power: The throttle should be moved to the idle position to reduce thrust.
A – Ailerons: Ailerons should be neutralized.
R – Rudder : Full opposite rudder input should be applied until the rotation is stopped. If the aircraft is rotating to the left, right rudder should be applied. Once the spinning stops, the rudder should be neutralized.
E – Elevator: Quick forward pressure should be applied to break the stall and gain airflow over the wings. Once the aircraft gains lift, back pressure should be applied gradually so as not to stall again.”

Please, if you are going to use PARE® to recall the spin recovery technique then get it right. True, neutralise the rudder once the spin stops but that won’t happen (in a typical fully developed spin) until after the next step of moving the elevator. That website suggests that you use the elevator to “break the stall” after the spinning stops however CASA, NASA and the FAA are quite clear: When the stall is “broken,” the spinning will stop. It is true that some aircraft have a rudder powerful enough to stop the rotation by itself in a fully developed spin but here we are discussing the generic technique.

Let’s move on to consider some examples of specific techniques.

For the Cessna 152:
3. JUST AFTER THE RUDDER REACHES THE STOP, MOVE THE CONTROL WHEEL BRISKLY FORWARD FAR ENOUGH TO BREAK THE STALL. Full down elevator may be required at aft center of gravity to assure optimum recoveries.
4. HOLD THESE CONTROL INPUTS UNTIL ROTATION STOPS. Premature relaxation of control inputs may extend the recovery.

Pretty much exactly what the FAA describes as the generic technique.

The Cessna 150 is similar. I recall a flight with one instructor trainee who was an experienced pilot. Upon recovery from his spin demonstration he applied full opposite rudder and continued to hold the yoke full back. The aeroplane simply kept spinning. He gave me a quizzical look and I responded with: “Just move the yoke forward.” He was testing me as he had some bad experiences with instructors previously.

Now for the Super Decathlon Flight Manual:
Recover with Positive Movement of Stick to Neutral Position & Opposite Rudder Until Rotation Stops – Then Neutral Rudder & Smooth Recovery from Dive to Level Flight.
Free Release at Control is Not Adequate for Recovery.
Positive Movement of Controls by the Pilot is Required for Spin Recovery.

The Operating Manual has this additional information:
1) Throttle – Closed
3) Rudder – FULL DEFLECTION in the opposite direction to the rotation
4) Elevator – POSITIVE FORWARD TO NEUTRAL (free release of the elevator control is not adequate for recovery)
5) Rudder – NEUTRALIZE when rotation stops and positive control and flying speed is restored
6) Nose Attitude – RAISE smoothly to level flight attitude
7) Throttle – only after recovery from diving attitude, then as required

Again, pretty much exactly what the FAA describes as the generic technique.

Other variants of the Decathlon are the same. I recall a flight with one instructor trainee. As a flight examiner I had previously failed him on his test for the spin training endorsement because of his dangerously incorrect knowledge – he was adamant that PARE® meant power off, aileron neutral, opposite rudder and elevator to pull out of the dive. He had absolutely no idea what the flight manual said about spin recovery. On this flight I gave him an opportunity to demonstrate recovery per his earlier briefing to me. After a couple of turns we were definitely in a fully developed spin and, a surprise to him, it simply continued spinning … and spinning. Stick forward and it recovered!

I have seen that wrong explanation of PARE® so often from spin-endorsed pilots that the standard of spin instruction makes me angry. I have experimented on occasion and not corrected someone during the briefing so I could observe their performance in flight. With the opposite rudder they inadvertently relax the back pressure and the stick moves forward enough to recover the spin. Another factor is that they do not let the spin develop fully – in the incipient spin stage the aeroplane is very easy to recover.

As some people very well know, there are some spin modes for the Decathlon where it takes a positive push to move the stick from the aft stop. Read those instructions in the manual again – it specifically addresses this characteristic.
PARE® is the thing to remember but get the detail right.

I have a short quiz about spinning on my website at (the password is quiz). Why do so many people have the incorrect understanding of PARE®? Why do so many people believe that the elevator is used to unstall the wings only after the rotation stops?

I long ago ceased wondering how this situation arose. A combination of a few things but the root cause is people taking a shortcut to getting the qualification. Instructor trainees don’t bother to read the Flight Instructor Manual or the Flight Manual.

If they are using the incorrect technique surely it would become obvious during the flight exercises? It should and does but only if the aircraft has entered a fully developed spin. If spin exercises are limited to about one turn then the aircraft will recover easily, typically by relaxation of the pro-spin controls. If the aircraft is let develop spiral dive characteristics then the autorotation typically ceases by itself.

I have also seen trainees who were taught the correct information and then get off track by themselves. i.e. the training did not sink in – what’s that about assessing competence per the flight instructor standards? I know that it is not easy however it is important to do more than just present the knowledge in a pre-flight briefing, demonstrate spin recovery and observe the trainee repeat that technique on the one flight.

An earlier ATSB report is interesting in this context
“The pilot was an experienced flying instructor and aerobatic pilot and held a general authorisation to conduct aerobatic flying below 3000 feet but not below 500 feet above ground level. …
… after completing his aerobatic display, which commenced with a spin, he commented that the spin had been made with engine power on and more height had been lost during this manoeuvre than he had intended. …
On the next morning … At a height variously estimated from 2000 to 4500 feet above ground level … Engine power was then heard to decrease and the aircraft entered a spin, probably to the left although one of several witnesses believed it was to the right. As the spin progressed, the nose attitude appeared to steepen to the near vertical. After making four complete turns, and after the fifth turn commenced, the aircraft struck the ground ….
It was established that it was the normal practice of the pilot, when performing aerobatics, to set the altimeter of his aircraft to indicate the height above ground level. The altimeter of VH-ERB was found to be set to indicate the altitude above mean sea level …
The probable cause of the accident was that the pilot, for reasons which have not been established, did not take timely action to recover from an aerobatic manoeuvre at a safe height.”

There is one common factor in both of these accident reports. The Chipmunk in 2014 had the obsolete Department of Transport Flight Manual. “In Australia prior to 2002, CASA and its predecessors prepared, approved and issued AFMs for light civil aircraft. The flight manual in use for UPD was one such manual, approved specifically for that aircraft by CASA’s predecessor in 1988. It did not include guidance on spin recovery.”
VH-ERB also had one of those flight manuals with nil guidance on spin recovery.

The observed steepening of the nose attitude indicates an accelerated spin which results from moving the stick forward before opposite rudder leading to a delayed recovery. It is unfortunate that the investigators did not seek out the spin recovery procedure that the pilot would’ve been known to use.

The only safety issue identified by the ATSB in that 2014 Chipmunk accident report was addressed to the specific flying school:
“The spin recovery methods taught by the flying school were inconsistent across instructors and training material, and were not always appropriate for the Chipmunk aircraft type used by the school.”
My opinion is that it is a much more general reoccurring safety issue which needs to be addressed regularly. I’d reinforce the contents of the CASA Flight Instructor Manual (supported by the FAA Flying Handbook) and the Flight Manual of the specific aircraft used. Of course, it is essential to have the current correct flight manual – I still see those old Department of Transport flight manuals in aerobatic aircraft! My opinion is that instructors should also read the book Stall, Spins and Safety by Sammy Mason – they need to know more than the minimum knowledge that their students must be taught. I find it amazing that inexperienced instructors and instructor trainees can just invent stuff, or at best apply some quite specific bit of information as if it was generic gospel – very dangerous.

Finally, PARE® per Rich Stowell from his excellent book Stall/Spin Awareness:
1. Power – Off.
2. Ailerons – Neutral (+ Flaps Up).
3. Rudder – Full Opposite and Held.
4. Elevator – Through Neutral.
Hold these inputs until rotation stops, then:
5. Rudder – Neutral.
6. Elevator – Easy Pull to Straight and Level.

Remember that, it is really not that hard to get it right.

Loops, Voices and the Fear of Death

This short story by Richard Bach written back when I started flying aerobatics has stuck with me for many years – it is available now in his book “A Gift of Wings”.DavidAirtourerEarly70sThat was the theme for my talk to the Aviation Medical Society of Victoria on 13th August 2016.

Here is my powerpoint presentation which will give you a taste of what I was talking about: LoopsVoicesandFearITAug16

Check out the links to the videos too.

Stay in Control: Incipient Spins

Note: this article was updated on 19/6/19 mainly to reflect the changes with the FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook revision of 2016.

I avoid discussing incipient spins at the same time as fully developed spins to make it quite clear that the recommended recovery actions maybe quite different.

Let’s see what CASA has to say on the subject in their Flight Instructor Manual.

Chapter 9 Stalling:

“Show that lift increases until the critical angle is reached. …..  Smooth airflow then becomes turbulent and lift is decreased. This is the stalling angle.”

Interesting to note in CASA’s article at that:

“There’s an interesting characteristic of angle of attack in most general aviation aircraft: critical AoA, the onset of a stall, begins at a 17 degree AoA or so, but maximum lift development occurs just before reaching the critical angle of attack.” Hmmm – a different definition of critical angle perhaps?

The Flight Instructor Manual Chapter 9 goes on:


Use the standard recovery, i.e. simultaneous use of power and forward movement of the control column. In addition rudder must be used to prevent the nose of the aeroplane yawing into the direction of the lowered wing. The ailerons should be held neutral until control is regained, when the wings should be levelled.”

Unfortunately, some CASA documents refer to this as an incipient spin! It is but it isn’t really!

Chapter 13 of the Flight Instructor Manual is Spins and Spirals. I can’t see a specific definition of incipient spin there but anyway:


Brief the student that you will be demonstrating the entry to the spin in the normal manner. Point out that before the spin develops fully you will be recovering by ensuring the throttle is closed and the controls are centralised followed by recovery from the ensuing unusual attitude.”


But on the following page, in the same chapter:


Carry out the pre-spinning checks. From a straight glide use the controls as for the entry to a fully developed spin. As soon as the aeroplane has stalled and commenced to yaw take the appropriate recovery action. Increase power, apply sufficient rudder to prevent further yaw and ease the control column forward sufficiently to un-stall the aeroplane. Point out that if power is to materially assist recovery action it must be applied before the nose of the aeroplane has pitched too far below the horizon otherwise its use will only increase the loss of height.”

Power can also aggravate the autorotation if the pilot mishandles the other actions.

Let’s see what CASA has published in their CAAP 155-1 Aerobatics: absolutely nothing on incipient spin recovery!

It seems that we must go to the USA’s FAA Airplane Flying Handbook free online at for a definition of an incipient spin. Chapter 4, Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins, was reeritten in 2016 to become Maintaining Aircraft Control:
Upset Prevention and Recovery Training.

“During the turn, excessive rudder pressure should be applied in the direction of the turn but the bank held constant by applying opposite aileron pressure. At the same time, increased back-elevator pressure is required to keep the nose from lowering. All of these control pressures should be increased until the airplane stalls. When the stall occurs, recovery is made by releasing the control pressures and increasing power as necessary to recover.”

It goes on to define the incipient spin as:


The incipient phase is from the time the airplane stalls and rotation starts until the spin has fully developed. This change may take up to two turns for most airplanes.”


Then it defines  the fully developed phase:


The developed phase occurs when the airplane’s angular rotation rate, airspeed, and vertical speed are stabilized while in a flightpath that is nearly vertical. This is where airplane aerodynamic forces and inertial forces are in balance, and the attitude, angles, and selfsustaining motions about the vertical axis are constant or repetitive. The spin is in equilibrium.”

Quite clear to me!

The Airplane Flying Handbook has a new stall recovery template. The only mention of incipient spin recovery is “The pilot should initiate incipient spin recovery procedures prior to completing 360° of rotation. The pilot should apply full rudder opposite the direction of rotation.”

The APS Emergency Maneuver Training Pilot Training Manual is also a good resource which is free online.

“RECOVERY Stall Recovery (See Exercise #5)

􀀴 Push

􀀴 Power*

􀀴 Rudder

􀀴 Roll

􀀴 Climb

* Power selection considerations will be discussed during ground Training”

This is amplified on their website at


An example of a stall recovery for most general aviation aircraft and most other aircraft types and classes is as follows:

PUSH: Reduce AOA (forward movement of the control column) to allow the wing to reduce AOA below critical AOA, reduce drag and to immediately transition from stalled fight to normal unstalled flight. Common tendencies are to either over-push causing excess nose drop below the horizon increasing altitude loss or a fore-aft pumping motion of the yoke causing one or more secondary stalls.

POWER: Smoothly add up to full power (usually) to increase airspeed and minimize altitude loss. We can do stall recoveries all day with the power at idle, however, an idle power setting is not assisting us in minimizing altitude loss. Keep in mind that there are certain situations that selecting power to idle in the stall recovery is the proper action. Examples include high-torque single-engine prop aircraft and in a Vmc situation in a multi-engine aircraft.

RUDDER: If there is any roll/yaw motion associated with the initial stall and the wing is still at or beyond critical AOA, the rudder should be used to stop the yaw-roll couple from developing. The amount of rudder used is only enough to coordinate the flight condition and should be accomplished in one application. Pumping or cycling the rudder is not a desirable technique especially for large aircraft. Note that the rudder is not used to roll the aircraft wings-level in a stall recovery. Common errors in the use of rudder vary from not using it all to using it far too much, for too long. Rudder is critically important in an uncoordinated stall condition (such as a cross-controlled stall) to ensure the stall is not allowed to develop from a stall to a spin.

ROLL: When the wings are clearly unstalled and coordinated flight has been regained. The aircraft’s flight attitude must be immediately be re-oriented to a wing’s level condition by rolling with aileron and coordinated rudder to the nearest horizon. Again, the aircraft should not be rolled by use of rudder alone at this stage. The primary roll control in normal flight is through the proper use of ailerons.

CLIMB: With the wings level in coordinated flight, aft yoke movement should be immediately applied to initiate recovery to a climbing attitude. The amount of elevator movement applied must ensure the aircraft remains below critical AOA at speeds below Va and at a load less than the limited load factor of the aircraft at speeds above Va.

Essentially, the first three steps of the stall recovery (1-2-3) are directly focused on safely recovering the aircraft from the stall and the last two steps (4-5) are to recover from any resulting unusual attitude. It is important for the pilot know and understand that these processes can not be successfully reversed. The stall must be solved first, regardless of the flight attitude of the aircraft, then followed by solving the unusual attitude.”

CASA’s recovery technique from a stall with a wing drop is fine for the usual practice straight stalls but note that rudder is really superfluous as forward movement of the stick will unstall the wing and the dropped wing can then be easily rectified with aileron. Some of you may be aware that aircraft certification requirements mandate use of the aileron for roll control at the stall – but note that is only for aircraft certified in recent years – we still fly many aeroplanes which were NOT certified to those requirements. Mishandling at the stall, say the classic skidded turn at low height, is quite different however in that the entry to the post-stall gyration is much more aggressive – this is the one that everyone should be wary of and know the immediate correct actions for recovery. Messing up an aerobatic manoeuvre is a similar situation although the altitude is generally higher.

The Super Decathlon is an example of a type certified to an older version of FAR 23 and it has this statement in the Operating Manual:

“The Super Decathlon stall characteristics are conventional. The stall warning horn will precede the stall by 5 – 10 MPH depending on the amount of power used. There is very little aerodynamic buffeting preceding the stall.

Aileron control in a power on stall is marginal. Large aileron deflections will aggravate a near stalled condition and the use is not recommended for maintaining lateral control. The rudder is very effective for maintaining lateral control in a stalled condition with the ailerons placed in the neutral position.”

An inadvertent stall/spin entry requires immediate action to unstall the wing and to remove the aggravating control deflections. Move the stick forward and get rid of aileron and rudder input. In other words:

Centralise the controls.

If you are in something like a Pitts then it is essential to close the throttle – reduction of power tames this aeroplane. If in something more docile then power is a secondary consideration so initially don’t need to do anything with the throttle. If centralising the controls doesn’t have an immediate effect then you are on your way to a fully developed spin so remember those actions from my other article – the first action is power to idle so this is the time – do it now. If centralising controls is having a positive effect then you now get to decide what to do with the throttle.

Consider the accident to a Cirrus in NSW in May 2014 – the ATSB report is at

“The PIC then took control of the aircraft and stated ‘watch this’. He selected 50% flap, rolled the aircraft into a left turn at about 25° angle of bank, reduced the power to idle, and raised the nose of the aircraft. The passenger in the front seat queried the use of flap and the PIC confirmed it was intended. As the aircraft approached the stall, the PIC pointed to the vertical speed indicator. As he did this, the right wing dropped rapidly and the aircraft entered a spin to the right. The PIC reported that at this time he performed his normal recovery procedure from this manoeuvre: maintained a neutral aileron control position, applied forward pressure on the control stick to pitch the aircraft nose down, rudders neutral and applied power. He reported that he moved the throttle lever forwards to increase power however there was a distinct hesitation in the engine response. The passenger in the front seat reported that on about the third rotation of the spin, the PIC said ‘I’m sorry’ ……….”

So, the pilot responded to the post-stall gyration by centralising the controls and applying power however the autorotation continued to develop into a spin. Application of power can have a significant adverse effect and aggravate the post-stall gyration. Reduction of power will eliminate that aggravating effect.  If you know that application of power will not make the situation worse and you think it will reduce the height loss then by all means do it – but be absolutely sure that you are correct. Of course, this particular pilot had a parachute to recover the aircraft so a better option earlier on.

Finally, it is very important to know how your particular aeroplane type behaves at the stall. What is the best thing to do in the type that you normally fly if you inadvertently start to spin at a low height? You must also consider your own experience and level of competency. How will you react if the aeroplane suddenly departs controlled flight at low altitude? It is all very well to know of a procedure to recover with minimum height loss but of little use if you mishandle the procedure and make it worse instead with application of power. A typical situation is the forced landing approach following an engine failure when your stress levels are already very high. Of course, in that situation, you don’t have power available to you anyway. APS has identified these common reflexive actions in initial stall/spin training – so, if a spin is suddenly encountered with nil training then expect one or more of these to occur which will make life much worse. e.g. “• Involuntary swearing and sweating • Continuing to hold the elevator control aft because of a dramatic, nose-down flight attitude • Inadvertently applying opposite aileron as a wing dips at the stall break, or as the airplane starts to roll into an incipient spin • Wildly shoving the elevator control forward”.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is to remember this set of immediate actions for recovery from an inadvertent spin entry:

  • Centralise the controls
  • Close the throttle
  • Recover from the ensuing unusual attitude