May 2000 Issue

Graveyard Spirals

Could ignorance about airplane stability be a link in the loss-of-control accident chain?

While discussing last yearís Kennedy accident with a pilot friend, a significant point of disagreement was uncovered.

I outlined my conviction that some VFR-into-IMC accidents occur because many pilots donít realize that most general aviation airplanes are inherently unstable. My friend expressed doubt about my belief.

We are both retired CFIs, with a combined total of over 8,000 hours of flight instruction given, and we respect each otherís opinion. The heavily publicized tragedy apparently involved loss of control on a VFR night flight in marginal visibility. During televised interviews, the nefarious graveyard spiral was mentioned frequently. Many people speculated that the celebri...

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