Apr 23 2010

Guest Blogger Post #2 – Scary Spins

Category: Guest Blogger,LessonsDaniel @ 7:24 pm

I thought after flying Saturday on such a windy day, nothing could scare me anymore about flying.  After all, you did such a good job landing us.  But yesterday I went for my lesson again.  I had a total of 10 hours and felt really comfortable.  The day started really nice.  The winds were 7-10 knots,  not bad.  I did the pre-flight and we took off.  After climbing to 3,000 ft. we did some hand-leg coordinated maneuvers and then it happened.  The instructor told me that “we are going to do some power off and power on stalls.”  I thought “nothing new” I was very comfortable, since we have done many of these in the past.  First was a power off stall, it went smooth.  Next was the power on stall.  As we were starting to approach the stall, the instructor tells me “let go of the rudder and start turning to the left.”  I did not know but this is a spin.  As the plane started to roll and we lost control of the airplane I screamed as loud as I could, let go of the flight controls and grabbed the instructor’s arm.  I felt powerless.  The ground was coming at us very fast.  It was the scariest thing in my life so far.  I look at the instructor and he has his arms crossed at his chest.  I’m thinking to myself “why is this guy not grabbing the controls?”  After about 5 seconds the plane recovered BY ITSELF and leveled off.  I was shaking, scared and all the sudden my body temperature was really high.  I was sweating at 40 degrees Fahrenheit with the heat off.

After I was able to gather my thoughts again, I asked him: “What happened?  Why didn’t you grab the controls?  We could have died.”  He looked at me calmly, and said this was nothing dangerous.  He asked me if I wanted to do this during take off.  My response was I NEVER want to do this period.  And he said “that’s why we have to do this so that you can recognize what happens and you don’t do it during take off.”  Unfortunately, I let go of the controls and it was only a half spin and before he releases me from training we have to complete a full spin.  YIKES!  Not looking forward to that.

Next thing that he said was: “Do you want to try this again, or do some landings at Kenosha?”  I was scheduled for a 3 hour lesson and this happened 15 minutes into it.  I was asking myself, “is he kidding?”  Let me go back and walk on the sweet ground again.  I was done for the day, but my ego didn’t let me do that.  So we ended up flying to Kenosha and did about 10 landings.  After the first 2 landing we started doing emergency procedures.  First was engine failure.  I was on the down wind leg and all the sudden the engine went quite.  I was like oh crap!  The spin must have done some damage to the engine.  And then he tells me “lets pretend that your has engine failed, land us.”  We also did flaps failure and all other sorts of emergency procedures.  On the way back to Westosha, he told me to fly without the yoke.  So the ailerons and the rudder were not functional.  I was impressed with the airplane.  If something fails, you still have options.  You can fly and land with engine failure, or other failures.  Again, the plane functions as a glider.  We concluded our day with some cross wind landing at Westosha.  Let me tell you, I was glad to be on the ground again.

Later, Kenan

[This post authored by Dan’s friend Kenan]

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8 Responses to “Guest Blogger Post #2 – Scary Spins”

  1. Chris says:

    I don’t have many more hours than you, but an experience like that would have me looking for a new instructor.

  2. Sarah says:

    That is unfortunate. Spins ( deliberate ) need not be scary, and should be explained before demonstrated. It does sound like an instructor actually tried to scare a student. What a shame.

  3. Kenan says:

    Thanks for reading my posting. My instructor is very knowledgeable. He has been flying for 40 years, knows his stuff and is very calculated. He always explains and demonstrates maneuvers before he lets me attempt them. This last time was an exception, probably with a good reason. He told me that he bases his decision when to release a student pilot to solo, on the decisions that the student pilot makes. Encountering a new situation, freaking out and letting go of the controls, wasn’t the best decision on my part. I would have liked it if this was on a simpler maneuver but oh well, it’s all good practice.

  4. Todd says:

    I have to say I would be looking for a new instructor as that just does not seem like an appropriate way to teach. That being said I think when you are prepared and work on spins you will realize they are easier to manage and less out of control than your think.

  5. Sarah says:

    On reading your post more carefully, it sounds like you experienced an incipient spin ( wing drop and start of rotation ). I can’t tell if your instructor planned this to happen or just let it happen – you’d have to ask him.

    Still – the subject should have been discussed before you saw one. Even with a briefing spins can scare students. Once you understand them and overcome the “out of control” feeling, they can actually be fun!

    Good luck, and enjoy your flight training.

  6. Jeff says:

    Your post brings back vivid memories of my pilot training. To this day, 20 years later, I STILL get a dry mouth and racing heartbeat when I’m asked to do a power-on stall. I fly out of Westosha also, and was checked out by your instructor as well. He taught me, as each instructor does, a great many things which I carry with me each time I fly. I especially valued his lessons on landing in 5K6. If you can land there, on a 38-foot ‘road’ with crosswinds, you can land just about anywhere.

  7. Jamie says:

    Dude you screamed?
    I totally froze up my first spin but at least I didn’t scream.
    The odd thing is I love doing spins now, I wish I could do them every lesson.

  8. Wilson Richards says:

    That was an amazing adventure! Really! It’s normal that your instructor would do that to you so you would know what you’ll going to do when that happens in a real flight. But anyway, at least you learned right? Keep practicing!

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