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Aerodynamic and upset training - not relevant to normal GA flying, and wake encounters

This article by the famous Mac McClellan is interesting.

There is a comment about wake encounters which is especially relevant in light of the recent accident in Dubai.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I disagree with the article – “normal aircraft” and “personal piston singles” owned and flown by many (or maybe most) pilots include Utility Category (and Experimental Category) aircraft that can be spun etc, not just what the author apparently views as “normal” – presumably meaning only cabin class transportation planes. All these normal, real world aircraft can be used to train for unusual attitudes with direct relevance to the planes that the pilot normally flies… because they are the planes he normally flies, for any purpose.

This author for some reason regularly shows a tendency to think the entire GA world flies an A36 Bonanza or Baron… but in 2020 they don’t.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 23 Jan 22:26

I know two pilots in citations that had major upsets and credited their UR training with saving them.

EGTK Oxford

Upset training is relevant to all types of aircraft.

Peter wrote:

the famous Mac McClellan

Never heard about him …

I think he is wrong. The more you know, whether it is physical muscle memory, planning, risk awareness, experience and so on, the better off you are when something out of the ordinary do happen. We are biological creatures with biological computers between the ears. In an a sudden and stressful situation we work by gut feeling and by association to previous experience and knowledge. It’s like a bank, the more we put into it, the more we can take out when we need it, and it’s there in an instant.

It takes a long time before we can start to think in a linear fashion again, and if we have nothing in the associative bank, then we are better off doing nothing most of the time, wait until the brain can think constructively. The problem is that some times you cannot afford doing nothing, you don’t have the time. There may be very few occurrences when that happens, but when it does, you are dead before you run out of time. Another effect is that you will be much better at staying ahead of what is happening, and thereby preventing things from happening in the first place.

I also find it odd the way he talk about accidents and pilots. Sure, by adding margins and by staying out of difficult situations they are prevented in the first place. But it doesn’t occur to him that “upset training”, on any training whatsoever, will make you better at doing exactly that.


I disagree with the article. Learn and practice upset recovery at every opportunity.

Sure, you should not get a plane upset, and if you do, you could be too low to recover. But, every single engined normal category plane can be recovered from a one turn spin, it’s a certification requirement. It’ll come out, if you have the skill to recover it. The basic recovery technique will result in a recovery in all planes of this class, and some twins too, if you have the altitude. I agree than spending the money to fly an L39 for this training is excessive, just get some training in a propeller powered aerobatic airplane.

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

What is meant by upset training/conditions exactly? Every one of my MEP tests and revalidations has included recovery from unusual attitudes as it was in my MEP training so I assume we are not talking about that. I have not been able to read the article yet. Dictionary translation of ‘upset’ doesn’t make sense here “not happy” or “spilled”.


I guess the problem here is the definition of upset/unusual position. If you fly SR22 as transportation machine you common bank/attitude envelope is way too different from someone who is regularly descending after releasing gliders or someone who is flying aerobatics. Doing a single flight in L-39 is nice but will hardly help you on recognizing you are close to enter spin in your M20R the next day. One size doesn´t fit all here.
So, I tend to agree to at least some elements what he is mentioning. The best thing to do is go the edge of envelope of the aircraft you actually fly with experience FI on the RH. Or eventually go beyond to see what you do not want to do on your own. But we never go beyond the envelope…


@gallois, “Aeroplane upset prevention and recovery training” = “formation à la prévention et à la récupération à la suite d’une perte de contrôle d’un avion”.

See upset in Merriam-Webster dictionary
transitive verb 2: to force out of the usual upright, level, or proper position : overturn
intransitive verb: to become overturned
noun 1: an act of overturning : overturn

You can also have an “upset tummy”, or “upset the arrangement”.


I share his fondness of the principle “prevention before treatment” (to express it in medical lingo more familiar to me) but I don’t see a reason not to undergo upset recovery training as an additional layer of security.

As a “straight and level” kind of guy I would most certainly benefit from URT…

Novice pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany
22 Posts
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