Don’t Stall

A different time; a different place; a different world: young men flew airplanes without an I-pad or Garmin 1000.

In my March Hangar Talk I suggested there are only two fundamentals to master if your goal is to become a great stick: don’t stall and control the nose. The first fundamental “don’t stall” is an understanding of what the legendary pilot Bob Hoover meant when he said “fly the thing”. Good sticks understand that airplanes do not stall. I want to repeat that: airplanes do not stall; pilots cause airplanes to stall with excessive back pressure  causing the wing to exceed its critical angle of attack.  Don’t do that. Avoid unnecessary back pressure during maneuvers.

Certified airplanes are designed to be stable when flown within the design envelope for power and pitch. That means when the pilot defects the elevator from the set trimmed position, the airplane will pitch and change its angle of attack. When the pilot releases the elevator, the airplane will return to the trimmed attitude (angle of attack). It is always that way – try it. Make it your habit to unload, let go, of the stick (yolk) during a normal and coordinated turn. If the nose drops or rises sharply you where applying pressure (deflection) to the elevator. Most pilots have that habit and do not realize it. This habit is especially problematic during a descending turn to base or final during landing. In an emergency, that habit can trigger a stall-spin event.

Stall recognition is an important element of pilot training. A pilot should recognize that “buffet” is the unset of a stall. At that instant unload the elevator – stop deflecting the elevator – let go of the stick (yolk). The airplane knows angle of attack, it has inherent stability, it will recover the stall effortlessly, and every time if you (the pilot) relieves the elevator pressure.