September 2000 Issue

Unnatural Reaction

Kennedy accident only reinforces the need to prevent graveyard spirals

The anniversary of one of the most publicized general aviation accidents ever came and went, and almost on cue the NTSB released its official report on the crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr. Together, they made a powerful reminder that one of the earliest identifiable pitfalls of flying is still with us today. Aptly named the graveyard spiral, it has taken its toll of lives since the invention of the airplane.

Like its cousin the tailspin, the entry is insidious resulting from spatial disorientation and the conclusion is often fatal. The entry pattern associated with either maneuver is similar, but the resultant maneuvering track quite different. Real-life testing and experience,...

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