Let’s stop the Stall/Spin Accidents

Sad news at Reno, sad news close to my home. It happened yesterday on a golf course not far from where I live in Indianapolis; another small plane when down, two fatalities. General aviation is a pretty small group and at least locally, we all seem to either know each other or at least know by association. So as always, my first thought was, “oh no, please don’t let it be anyone I know”. Watching the 6:00 news and seeing the pictures and videos it was difficult to tell what type of airplane it was – white, small tail/elevator, thin, high wing. Soon we found out it was a Remos and not from this area. OK, my friends and acquaintances were safe but somebody else was getting shattering news.

From impact photos and witness testimony it appears to be yet another stall/spin accident that took the lives of two 21 year old college students. A terrible, tragic loss.

For my own reassurance, benefit and safety, I spent some time today reading about aircraft accidents involving stall/spins. I suddenly wanted to educate myself and assure myself that I would not end up in a similar situation. I read that “stall/spin accidents tend to be more deadly than other types of GA accidents, accounting for about 10 percent of all accidents, but 13.7 percent of fatal accidents.” I thought the following info from an article in ‘Air & Space Magazine’ clarified how easily it could happen.

The Spin Debate
If spins can kill, why aren’t pilots trained to handle them?
By Joseph Bourque
Air & Space Magazine

IMAGINE YOU’RE FLYING A LEFT-HAND APPROACH to the local airport. you’re on the base leg, perpendicular to the runway, with its near end at your left front quarter as you bank into the left turn for the final leg. Halfway into the turn, you realize that a cross-wind is pushing you beyond the centerline, so you bank a little more. When it’s clear that won’t be enough to realign you properly with the runway, you kick in some extra left rudder to move the tail around, but that increases the bank angle. Your instructor has beaten into your head that you never make steep turns close to the ground, so you instinctively do what you always do to bring the left wing up: You turn the wheel to the right. To your surprise, the left wing dips further, so you turn the wheel still further to the right.

You have just made a classic mistake.

Suddenly the right wing flips up over the top, and the nose swings toward the ground as the airplane starts spinning. Since your altitude turning final is only 300 to 400 feet above ground level (AGL), do you have room to recover?


I won’t reprint the entire article but suffice it so say the answer is no.

In this video it’s unbelievable how quick the transition from routine flight to disaster happened. I debated whether to add this video – its real – somebody may learn something – it ends abruptly. 

Fatal Plane Crash  L-19 Birddog

1 Comment
  • Lisa Martin
    Posted at 08:12h, 18 September Reply

    Sad. John says the decision they were not going to fly through was turning right, into the mountain, rather than left, down the valley. But, they would have lived if the pilot would have leveled the wings, pulled full flaps and not hit a tree dead center.

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