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Training and Safety Tip: Embrace the stall

After a few lessons, a new vexation looms on the horizon: stalls. Many student pilots are intimidated by the idea of stalling the airplane, which tends to at least temporarily wrestle the fun out of learning to fly.

Understanding stall aerodynamics can help you embrace them. Regardless of the aircraft’s speed or attitude, any airplane will stall aerodynamically if the wing exceeds the critical angle of attack. This is the flight region where the relative wind meets the leading edge of the wing at an angle that is too severe to allow air to smoothly flow over the wing’s upper surface: The airflow is disturbed, lift is lost, and the airplane stalls. That’s all there is to it!

Why do we learn, practice, and demonstrate stalls? We need to describe the stall and the circumstances that can cause a stall. We also need to demonstrate during the checkride that we can identify an impending stall by various clues the airplane gives us and that we can safely recover from the stall while maintaining control of the airplane.

There are three stalls to master:

  • The power-off stall suggests an inadvertent stall while on final approach to landing.
  • The power-on stall mimics the condition of pitching up too aggressively while taking off.
  • The turning stall introduces you to how the airplane will react if stalled during a shallow banked turn.

To develop confidence, do this when your flight instructor says, “Okay, let’s do a power-on stall.” Take a deep breath, then let it go slowly. Clear the area, slow to the appropriate speed for a normal climb, add power (no less than 65 percent, but full power is not a requirement), and as you pitch up to induce the stall simply remind yourself, “I know exactly what is going to happen, because I’m the one making it happen.”

Your CFI or examiner looks for you to perform the recovery within airman certification standards. Keep your eyes outside the cockpit, remember that your feet have far more authority on the rudder pedals than your hands do on the yoke, and reduce the airplane’s angle of attack to correct for the stall. You will be on top of your game and the master of stalls in no time.

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