Spin Training / Upset Recovery

Loss of Control (LOC) remains the greatest cause of fatal accidents in the US.  Despite advances in technology such as AOA and autopilot ESP pilots still find themselves in unrecoverable states including stall/spin outcomes.  Though only required for CFI applicants, training a few hours of training outside your normal envelope can reap huge benefits.

Breaking down the Attitude

There are a lot of terms specific to this topic so it is easy to get confused.  Let’s cover a few basic points:

Unusual Attitude – An unintended or unexpected attitude in instrument flight.  This does not necessarily mean only IFR pilots can develop unusual attitudes.  Non-IFR pilots flying in restricted visibility or night can easily lose control, hence the required training for Private Pilot applicants.

Spin - A spin is an aggravated stall that typically occurs from a full stall occurring with the airplane in a yawed state and results in the airplane following a downward corkscrew path.

Upset - An event that unintentionally exceeds the parameters normally experienced in flight. These parameters are:

  • Pitch attitude greater than 25°, nose up
  • Pitch attitude greater than 10°, nose down
  • Bank angle greater than 45°
  • Within the above parameters, but flying at airspeeds inappropriate for the conditions.

This definition is inclusive of unusual attitudes and spins.

Spin vs Upset

When we think about spin training it is often confused with Upset Recovery Training (UPRT).  Spin training is specifically required for CFI applicants to mitigate unintended spins with students.  Upset recovery training uses real-world scenarios historically found to cause loss of control.  Through a Anticipate – Recognize – Recover process you develop the muscle memory to regain positive aircraft control from a variety of situations.  These often include human factors casual factors including VFR into IMC, diversion of attention, task saturation, sensory overload and spatial disorientation usually accompanied with a startle response.  Sounds familiar, right?  Think of UPRT as graduate level unusual attitude recovery.

All training will serve you well so whether you want to practice spin recovery or upset recovery, both may save your life the moment you need it.

Read more in the Airplane Flying Handbook.