June 2013 Issue

The Downwind Turn

Combining gusty winds and an overloaded, tail-heavy airplane is a recipe for an unrecoverable stall/spin.

Low-level, low-speed maneuvering is always a challenge, something reflected in the accident record. Whether we engage in this type of maneuvering because we’re showing off or trying to get around the traffic pattern, the risks are the same: There simply isn’t enough altitude to recover from a stall/spin if we get into one. Add some stiff wind, gusty conditions and/or poor planning to our low-speed equation and things quickly can get out of hand. That’s presuming everything else is as it should be, including an airplane loaded within its weight and balance limitations. If it’s overweight, out of balance or both, you’ve just become a test pilot on a difficult day.

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