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Spinning in a C152 - beyond immediate recovery

A question for the more experienced instructors and the test pilots in this forum:

I have spun a C152 [certified for spinning]

  • flapless as part of my FI training, but effectively with an immediate recovery after perhaps one turn. Rudder stopped the rotation quickly, and the aircraft barely needed any elevator beyond centralising to un-stall the wing. Letting go of the yoke would have done it.

  • with two stages of flaps and a bit of power on a stalling exercise that went wrong (frozen student needed "mechanical encouragement" to let go of the controls so I could initiate recovery. ILAFFT). That one was almost two turns and took some time to recover (again rudder stopped the rotation quickly, but it required a good dose of full elevator forward to unstall the wing. Airspeed never exceeded 80kt in the recovery - draggy, these things!)

Since I tell my students that "Stalling is FUN" (if done deliberately and high enough) I now have a couple of students who want to go spinning [they already all get an incipient spin as a matter of course, at least in the C152; PA28 is too benign].

Now I am quite comfortable to teach the immediate recovery from the flapless spin as I did in my FI training (flapless as I believe the spin certification does not extend to spinning with flaps), but wonder how safe it is to actually spin for a few turns and then recover, the likely height loss involved, and the airspeeds in the dive - I am worried about a panicked student tearing off the wings in the pull-out since this scenario leaves almost no time for instructor intervention, while some hesitation on the anti-spin inputs is no big deal.

My colleague instructors are not of much help since none have spun since their FI rating, and the CFI has no type specific experience beyond the immediate recovery [he would probably quite happily do it in a Harvard...], and while I will practice this solo before I teach it, I am not going to be my own test pilot, hence the question here.

Biggin Hill

Spin recovery is not part of PPL training anymore for a long time since it produced more deadly accidents from the SPIN recovery training than it could save from having pilots with SPIN recovery training flying afterwards. So, the focus is on SPIN avoidance now for about 20 years orso.

If you want to offer SPIN training, I would make sure you do it in an aerobatic aircraft and that you are proficient in not only SPIN recovery but more. But that is my personal suggestion. I don't know your skills as such.

EDLE, Netherlands

make sure you do it in an aerobatic aircraft

The C152 is approved for spinning. The POH contains a couple of pages on the characteristics, technique etc., as well as some indicative figures on the expected height loss (1,000ft for 1 turn and recovery, which pretty much matches my experience, and 2,000ft for a six turn spin, which sounds optimistic).

Before I spend time and effort on finding an instructor who can and is willing to do this, since as you say this has not been taught for the last 20 years, I would rather know about the general feasibility, in particular about airspeed expectations on recovery. Regardless of MY proficiency, if the expected recovery speed is significantly above Va I will not do it since it only takes one big heave back on the control column to break the wings...

Biggin Hill

The change in PPL training requirements was to eliminate spinning as mandatory training. Nobody says a PPL student can't be taught to spin, or any other airframe approved maneuver, if he wants to. That's his choice.

I'd imagine Pilot DAR will be able to answer the question with the degree of thoroughness required.

Not a strong view, but I would rather invest in stall/spin awareness than demonstrate fully developed spins to PPLs. If they still would want to practice entering, and recovering from a full spin, the C152 is approved (assuming rudder AD complied with), although you are spinning in an aircraft with the proverbial letter box in terms of windscreen. It would require a long briefing, with emphasis that different types have different spin entry/recovery procedures. Also need to discuss how poor recovery techniques might result in high rotation spins, flat spins, spiral dives where the speed can and does go through Vne. Need to schlepp out to an area where you can climb to at least 5400' (preferably higher, which means an hour plus sortie for airfields near the London TMA) and aim to recover by minimum 4000' AGL. In an ideal situation the aircraft should be aerobatic with parachutes and a bail out platform altitude agreed as part of the briefing - but practically this is hardly ever the case. Given the age of the C152 fleet and the usual leading edge dings, and potential mis-rigging, a fully developed spin might go rogue. Not my experience but has happened to more experienced colleagues. Apparently all common training types (Chipmunks, Firefly, Pup, C152, PA38, PA28 slab wing, BE23) have had incidents/accidents where there was an unexplained unrecoverable spin - may be a bit of an exaggeration, but certainly the case for some of the types mentioned. Some other types spinning is prohibited for good reason, eg the AA1. So I guess if someone wants to experience a spin and recovery, I would emphasize the non-fun aspects of seeking an intentional departure from controlled flight.

Oxford (EGTK)

The C152 is approved for spinning. The POH contains a couple of pages...

Yes, it's in the POH, but here in Germany they were all required by some airworthiness directive to be placarded "Intentional spinning Prohibited". And that's all I need to know...

Anyway, in our part of the world it dosen't matter as spinning has been removed from the training syllabus longer than I fly and that would be more than 35 years (instructing for more than 20). I have not spun a powered aircraft yet and no desire to ever try it (maybe some day in an aerobatic type but only with a parachute...).

Stall/spin avoidance training is the magic word now and I'm convinced that this is all we need.

EDDS - Stuttgart

What is the reason for training developed spin recovery to non aerobatic students?

AIUI, you cannot possibly spin anything during the cruise phase so it is only during slow flight, and most of that happens at a low level; too low to recover from most serious controlled flight departures.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I'm not convinced spinning is all that useful for non-aerobatic training. Maybe it depends on what you fly, and how you want to fly it. I fly a PA28, and it's unlikely I will end up in a full spin. I did a checkout on a C152 once, and the instructor did some spins with me, and while I was surprised how much it spun, it needed a relatively high nose / stall configuration to put it into a spin, and I don't think many people end up in that situation. Or would they?

Fair enough if you are flying a semi-aerobatic aircraft post-PPL and want the extra experience to be able to do it competently at will, but I see it as an post-PPL thing and not a during-PPL thing.

What is the reason for training developed spin recovery to non aerobatic students?

The only answer that comes to mind is "because that's how they do it in the RAF" ;-)

Our students are all on integrated ATPL training courses. Very early during their training they move onto piston twins that were never spin tested during development and - if they are lucky enough to get a job - will progress to some Boeing or Airbus type that does not even know how the word spin is spelt. Absolutely no reason to risk their life and their instructors too in spinning a C152 that has 10.000+ flying hours on it's back. I read somewhere that more pilots were killed during spin training than by unintentional spins. That's why it got removed from most training syllabi.

EDDS - Stuttgart

While the spin exercise is not very representative of spin entry- low level departure from controlled flight is still up there with continuing vfr into imc as the main GA killer. Leighton Collins wrote a good essay in the 1950's which is at the end of the current edition of 'Stick and Rudder', on the insidious low level/moose stall spin which remains a recurring cause of fatalities. That is why incipient spin training in aircraft less benign than the Warrior is a good exercise. The effect of waggling ailerons at a high angle of attack when a wing drops, or cross controls at low speed with excessive top rudder are flight regimes worth exploring (at a safe height) and discussing.

Oxford (EGTK)
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