Spin training

Bob Turner

Well-known member
We just had a fatal accident in a spin trainer scenario - not sure, but I think it was a 7KCAB.

No idea what happened. Not even sure they were spinning, but the aircraft was dedicated to the required spin stuff for the CFI rating. And I am way far from being an expert, although I teach spin entries and recoveries. I think the most I have ever done is three turns - once - in my J-3. And never more than 3/4 turn in a Citabria or Decathlon.

So do these things tighten up if one decides to go for a ten turn spin? Is there any possibility of flattening out if the guy in back is heavy? Folks come by my hangar for comment, and I have none, save that I think more than one turn is too much for most of us.

And I do eight slow rolls a week, so unusual flight is not something I totally avoid.

Bob Turner

Well-known member
Spins typically do not tighten up in one or two turns. I see no need to teach fully established multiple turn spins. Just get in, let the student see the rotation with the aircraft more or less vertical, then get out. Most inadvertent stall-spin situations would be handled that way - hauling back on the stick for a couple turns while you wonder what to do would surely be fatal.

I do not know if the Citabria goes flat after a bunch of turns if aft loaded. I do know a Cub will do that.

Bob Turner

Well-known member
So I have not stopped looking at this. Currently reading Rich Stovall's book, which, while authoritative, is full of semi- useful data, and not very helpful if one is thinking Champ/Decathlon.

One thing he does stress is a standard way out - power, ailerons, rudder, and only then elevator. My one turn spins do not generally require such rigor. But his point is well taken.

One quoted test pilot stated that any airplane can get into an unrecoverable spin.

Anybody got a more easily read reference that discusses ACA airplanes?
I'm no GK, but after about 3-4 turns in a 8KCAB the spin is fully developed and stable. I think I've done up to about 6 turns, and experienced nothing unusual. I didn't have anyone in the back seat.

Bob Turner

Well-known member
My buddies at Supercub dot org have given me insight. One report of a Decathlon not recovering in an airshow setting is illuminating.

I had a good friend who was a superb pilot spin a J-3 into the ground. He said it became very difficult to recover, but he regained some control just before impact, and walked away. Took 3 years to fix the airplane.

I think I have a better feel for the scenario than I did when I first posted this thread. Thanks.
I would think spinning the airplane outside of the aerobatic CG range would not be a good idea. I know simple one-turn spins can be done with the CG in that range, but I'd be nervous about doing anything more than that.
I have run into several CFI applicants over correcting and snapping the stick forward so far that they induce negative G on the wing. I think this stems from reading too many spin correction techniques for other aircraft, the 172 and Stearman do call for a snap forward on the elevator to recover. It is a difficult situation to react to as an instructor. I usually allow the maneuver to proceed into an inverted spin to unload the wing (I still have wood spars) and then recover. I can see how this could lead to an unexpected negative load on the wing and subsequent over speed in the dive to recover and losing a wing. We are not required to wear parachutes for spin training when its in pursuit of a CFI certificate but I always feel better wearing mine ;)

Bob Turner

Well-known member
The contest spin for Sportsman had a vertical line at recovery. It seemed pretty easy to do, without any excessive elevator input.

We had a guy at a CFI meeting last night advocating for eliminating the CFI spin requirement. Not sure I agree with that.


Lebanon, TN
I also teach spins. My clients are split about 50/50 between folks working on CFI and those who want to experience an intentional spin before possibly experiencing one inadvertently.
The most turns I have done were 9 with 2 aboard.
The first full turn is still incipient and the spin tightens up and the nose down attitude increases for the second turn which is fully developed. After that there is little, if any, change. This is with my 7ECA, other aircraft may act differently.
I start out the training with normal stalls, then cross controlled stalls. Next is a spin entry with immediate recovery, then 1/2 turn with recovery. Then comes 1 full turn with recovery. All the above are done with the client counting the turns by 1/2 turns, i.e. 1/2, 1, 1 1/2, 2. I finish the training with a 2 turn spin with recovery.
By working into the spin a step at a time and counting the turns out loud the client learns to be aware of what is going on around him, both inside and outside the airplane.
Learning to recover from a spin is only a small part of the value of spin training. I think the most valuable lesson for the client is experiencing flight outside their comfort zone. Learning that the "startle reflex" can be subdued to the point of actually thinking through it.