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Stalls and Spins The Traffic Pattern

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Dave Baxter

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Nov 14, 2007
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Quote: I will never understand how some in the pattern stall spin to the ground but I suppose it could happen to any of us given the same situation..

I can tell you a number of ways how I think this happens, but is my opinion, and as such worth only that. But I think it is worth mentioning, as few view it as the culprit.

One: Consider this when we learned to fly most all of the stalls we practiced out in the practice area, were with the nose up high and most learned in airplanes Cessnas and the early Piper Cherokee that had some sort of approach to stall warning indicator, a slight buffit or what ever, and most equate this to memory, also many do not practice stalls on a regular basis and get complacent.

Two: This is how I think it happens you are at traffic pattern altitude, and get distracted by another airplane that cuts you off or flys out from under your wheels unseen and with no radio transmissions, or you are having radio problems and are looking for traffic or your color GPS ADS-B display or have engine problems like a poor running issue or some other incident that distracts you and allows the speed in the pattern to slowly deteriorate, but you continue to hold and maintain pattern altitude not realizing that the airplane is getting close to stall, as it will stall in level flight!. Usually its not always from down wind to base, but many times the stall spin occurs from base to final but again I think due to distractions, as you are still trying to maintain a more level attitude, and ad to this making your turn to final by going past the ideal turn to final point and having to make a much steeper turn back so that you can get lined up better with the runway. And this is where and why in my opinion the traffic pattern stall and spin occurs..But again this is only my opinion.

Three: For the most part we are on our game in the pattern and do not let the airplanes speed in the pattern deteriorate or get below a certain number that we are comfortable with

The other thing is the departure stall, especially with our biplanes with so much drag in that if the engine quits on take off not only does the nose have to come down it has to really has to come down and right now, especially if one is in a full power steep climb!

Quote: I did my S-2 time with my good friend Doug Dodge and flew the Eagle with Sam Tomlinson. This thread seems to be mostly (and justifiably) about the approach and landing, but don't forget about what can happen on take-off. Sam LOVED to teach and after one take-off, he asked me to climb at 80 MPH. This is a slow climb speed for an Eagle or an S-2. Anyway, during that 80 MPH climb, Sam closed the throttle. That airplane literally tried to STOP and I had all I could do to get the nose down and keep it flying. I'll never forget that!

As a guy that watched two highly experienced pilots become fatally injured in a Super Cub that was departing with full power and in a steep climb at Hood River several yrs ago, from the time the engine quit to when it hit the ground was about three to five seconds!


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