February 2013 Issue

The Alpha Principle

Stall training should be less about airspeed and more about angle of attack, the difference between where the airplane¡¦s pointed and where it¡¦s going.

Loss of control in flight (LOC-F) is implicated in 51 percent of all fatal personal and business-use GA accidents, according to the NTSB. The preponderance of LOC-F events are aerodynamic stalls, according to NTSB member Dr. Earl Weener and as reported in his presentation at AOPA Summit in October 2012. Notably, fatal stalls are less common in instructional flight, perhaps because pilots are expecting them when training, and the instructor helps detect and respond to them. In my almost 30 years of experience, stalls and stall avoidance are constantly emphasized and feature regularly in NTSB investigations. I suspect a lot of Aviation Safety readers have even more experience than me, and have seen the same emphasis and crash record even longer.

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