“Technedure” and Spin Recoveries

I am in Florida presenting SAFE CFI-PRO™ to a flight academy here. Please read (and comment on) this very interesting give and take on spin recovery and the general topic of “technedure” – when a personal technique becomes an accepted – and passed on – procedure. (and a bit about aircraft manuals)

First read Natalie Bingham Hoover, AOPA Pilot, March 2020

And here is a reply from SAFE Founding and lifetime member

Rich Stowell

Master Instructor Emeritus
34,700 spin entries/recoveries in 240 single-engine airplanes representing 44 types.  AOPA Member since 1984

While the article by Instructor Hoover raises several interesting points, her use of the PARE acronym as an example of issues with so-called “technedures” highlights persistent misunderstandings among pilots about spin recovery.

The PARE acronym evolved as part of the Stall/Spin Awareness module taught in our Emergency Maneuver Training program. The acronym has been around for 30-odd years now, and its use in primary flight training has become widespread. The acronym and associated recovery checklist merely restate tried-and-true NASA Standard spin recovery actions—actions that were first identified 84 years ago by NACA (the forerunner to NASA). NASA confirmed the veracity of these actions between 1977 and 1989, during the most comprehensive research program ever undertaken regarding spins in light, single-engine airplanes.

As detailed in my book, “The Light Airplane Pilot’s Guide to Stall/Spin Awareness,” use of PARE comes with clearly defined caveats. Among other requirements, the acronym and associated checklist must be:

  • Applied in the context of typical, light, single-engine airplanes (which make up three-quarters of the general aviation fleet);
  • Applied only in conjunction with tried-and-true NASA Standard spin recovery actions; and,
  • Used for educational purposes by ground and flight instructors as part of civilian stall/spin awareness training.

That some in general aviation would suggest that PARE could be applicable to military aircraft not only misrepresents the acronym, but also illustrates operational human errors and omissions that are being committed during flight training.

If procedure is the “what,” technique is the “how and when.” Thus the recommendation “power off” is procedure. Techniques include closing the throttle, pulling the mixture to idle cutoff, or turning the mags off. Each satisfies the procedure. With all things equal, the question becomes, “which technique is superior?” Further, as soon as recovery actions are embellished with words such as “before,” “simultaneously,” or “after,” or arranged in a numbered list, procedure has been infused with technique— the very definition of technedure. Published spin recovery information—including PARE—is technedure. So the question remains: Which spin recovery techniques are superior?

Instructor Hoover compares the manufacturer-supplied spin recovery technedures for the Piper Tomahawk and the Cessna 152. Both manufacturers adhere to “power off.” The technedure in the Tomahawk manual places this action as Step (d) with the wording, “close the throttle.” In contrast, Cessna technedures for the 152 range from listing the power action in:

  • Step 2 with “retard the throttle to idle position” in the airplane manual; but,
  • Step 1 with “verify ailerons are neutral and throttle is closed” on the cockpit placard; but,
  • Step (a) with “verify that ailerons are neutral and throttle is in idle position” in the pamphlet, “Spin Characteristics of Cessna Models 150, A150, 152, A152,172, R172 & 177.”

Some manufacturers don’t even mention power. Examples include the Robin R 2100, Grob G 115C, de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, and Great Lakes 2T-1A-2. Are the manufacturers implying that power setting is irrelevant during spin recovery in those airplanes? Or are the manufacturers assuming that power is already off? Are you willing to gamble that spin recovery won’t be delayed or thwarted altogether because the power was left on? Power is known to aggravate spin behavior; thus, taking the power off and doing it earlier rather than later in the recovery process is a superior recovery technique, whether or not the manufacturer includes it in its published technedure.

A deep dive into certification spin testing also reveals the following:

  • The 1989 and 1993 versions of the “Flight Test Guide for Certification of Part 23 Airplanes” recommend the use of NASA Standard spin recovery, i.e., “Recoveries should consist of throttle reduced to idle, ailerons neutralized, full opposite rudder, followed by forward elevator control…unless the manufacturer determines the need for another procedure.”
    • Ninety-four percent of spin test pilots believe the actions listed above are the most effective for spin recovery in typical, light, single-engine airplanes.
    • The wording “unless the manufacturer determines the need for another procedure” was deleted in the 2003 revision of the “Flight Test Guide.” This wording does not appear in the 2011 revision, either.
  • Sixty-three percent of spin test pilots said it is not normal practice to try to find the optimum sequencing of spin recovery actions for a given airplane during spin testing for certification.
  • Fewer than half of spin test pilots believe that flight manuals adequately present spin recovery information.
  • Little to no guidance is provided regarding how spin recovery information should be presented to pilots. The typical Beechcraft spin recovery technedure, for example, is not listed chronologically even though a sequence of events is unmistakable: “Ailerons should be neutral and throttle closed at all times during recovery [emphasis mine]” appears after the pilot “execute[s] a smooth pullout” once rotation stops.

Should we continually question what we think we know? Absolutely! Do instructors need to do a better job of pointing out technique to their students, including providing some justification as to why they prefer a particular technique? Yes! And while it can be difficult to separate good information from bad, instructors need to remain vigilant against spreading inaccurate or incomplete information.

The most effective technedures for spin recovery in typical, light, single-engine airplanes have been known for a long time. Do some exceptions to the NASA Standard exist even among single-engine airplanes? Of course. But does that justify perpetuating the status quo, where manufacturers and instructors alike deliver critical spin information without regard to spin dynamics, consistency, or human factors?

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Author: richstowell1

Rich Stowell is a SAFE Charter and Life Member and 20-year Master Instructor. He has logged 9,100 hours of flight instruction, 34,700 spins, and 25, 700 landings in general aviation aircraft. Rich is a recognized expert in loss of control in light airplanes, the 2006 National Flight Instructor of the Year, and the 2014 National FAASTeam Rep of the Year.

16 thoughts on ““Technedure” and Spin Recoveries”

  1. Rich – Very interesting read, and a very timely comment on the state of flight training today. I’ve been writing a book that addresses many of these issues (looking for publishing). One of the things I suggest repeatedly in my book, which is about aircraft control, is that there is a correct way do things in airplanes, and there are incorrect ways, many of which can yield a result which will pass a check ride. I would go back to the example Ms. Hoover described, the steep turn, and posit that the Inspector had it wrong from the perspective of right control that embodies the true nature of the physical laws in play. What happens in a level, constant speed,steep turn is this. We bank to whatever angle specified, desired, or required. In order to maintain level flight in this condition (however we explain it – load factor increases lift required, or vertical component of lift reduced – we need more lift. More lift is achieved by increasing the angle of attack, so we increase the pitch attitude sufficiently to make this happen. And we all know that higher AOA increases induced drag which requires additional thrust to maintain the desired airspeed. I’ll go out on a limb here, and say; this is a correct description of what is happening in a steep turn. THIS is what should be taught to a student. The inspector was just as guilty of “technedure” as Ms. Hoover – his was to carry excess power, and trim nose up first, then let the airplane fly the maneuver. Both these teachings are wrong because they obscure from the student the actual forces acting on the airplane along with correct responses to them. By the way – steep turns are a metaphor for all control of an airplane. If taught correctly it has synergistic effects which can benefit all phases of flight.

    The problem is that somehow, we are losing, and to some degree have lost, the authentic knowledge of how airplanes fly and the correct roles of documentation, procedure, technique, and above all concept, which is what my book is about. Ms. Hoover shows us this again in her description of the flaps-ten short field takeoff that her applicant demonstrated. This is not just a matter of the student doing what his instructor told him. It is instead, an example of the instructor failing to teach him that errors notwithstanding, the POH is the bible. It is the reference for various control procedures listed in the ACS. Therefore, the correct technique (i.e. what flap setting to use) varies from one aircraft to the next. If the instructor isn’t teaching this, he has failed his student in a much more significant way than merely a wrong flap setting for short field takeoff. These procedures were judged as optimal during extensive certification testing – operating to the contrary, whether on short field takeoff or spin recovery, makes us test pilots too.

    The point of this overly long comment, is that when five flight instructors get together and discuss five different ways to do a steep turn – probably one of them is correct and the rest are wrong. But somehow we accept all the various points of view (technedure) as valid, even when they are not. Instead they confuse technique for the fundamental principles in play during the maneuver, therefore masking or mis-teaching the maneuver; giving a student the erroneous impression that the aerodynamic principles in play are trim and other elements of technique rather than the actual forces acting on the aircraft. This ambiguity (anyway is right as long as the result meets ACS standards) is destructive to authentic knowledge of flight control knowledge, concepts, procedures, and techniques.

  2. Technedure?: a specific technique for accomplishing a particular task (which may or may not comply with tech-order or AFI -Air Force Instruction Guidance, (yes I got it off a Canadian Air Force website) that is utilized or taught by a highly skilled airman over an extended period of time, that eventually becomes accepted within the organization as procedure.
    Ok, now that I know what that word “Technedure” (not in the Webster’s dictionary by the way) is and it is related to “Tribe knowledge”, “because this is the way I was taught”, “Because I said so”, CFIs are gods so it has to be right, or finally “been done this way since Moses was a baby”, I would like to comment on these articles.
    I think one of the reason this is occurring is after about the age of 2 and we have asked our parents this specific word a hundred times a day, it was drummed out of us by the time we were 3. The word is “why?” Ms Hoover answer to the DPE should have been Yes and No. Yes, we add power, then she should have explained why she use it and when. and No trim does not have to be used and I NEED to use Elevator and here is why I use elevator trim. DPE used power first and he had to act on the elevator also. No explanation on why he did what he did. Just did the steep turn. We know, at least I believe, he released the forward pressure at some time and we all know the rest or do we? I guess I come from an era at Cessna Citation where there was a four step process that has been loss there in recent years on how to trouble shoot a system that is broke on an aircraft.
    1. What is malfunctioning? and the 2nd question that is very hard to remember and that why we have Maintenance Manual:
    2. “How does the system work normally.” If you do not completely understand the maneuver, how do you know you are not doing something incorrect in the maneuver. With that in mind:
    1. Level Steep Turns – (maintain level flight).
    2. What happens from straight and level flight going turn, while you are in the turn, and when you come out of the turn NORMALLY? What controls (I believe all three primary control surfaces and throttle(s) are used and
    when and why?
    3. What do you do if the aircraft deviates from level flight and WHY?
    4. Now do the maneuver.
    Mom and Dad gave up on me. No matter how hard they tried.
    To this day I still ask the question – Why?
    Can you as a CFI, answer the two year old’s question: “Why” and guide the student to “Where” your student can look it up in a FAA website manual or a quality website or abook like Mr Stowell’s or the old book that has been around for years “Stick and Rudder”? It’s a difficult task and I am still working on it.

  3. While I agree with Rich in his defense of the PARE acronym and its wide-spread and appropriate use in the light GA industry, I don’t think either Natalie or her FAA examiner are entirely incorrect in flying steep turns. The Aircraft Flying Handbook (at 9-2) states that the objective in flying steep turns is to develop a pilot’s skill in flight control smoothness and coordination, an awareness of the airplane’s orientation to outside references, division of attention between flight control application, and the constant need to scan for hazards. To these objectives, I would add the acquired experiences of the various control inputs required to deal with overbanking tendencies and vertical versus horizontal components of lift. A power change is obviously required to compensate for the increased drag in steep turns, but trim is optional. If a pilot chooses to use trim while executing a steep turn, I offer them the chance to try one without any use of trim to let them experience the required amount of back pressure required to maintain level flight. That doesn’t make my way right and her way wrong. That merely exposes the pilot to another arrow in her quiver of piloting skills.
    Similarly, the use of PARE should be the beginning step, along with the POH, in acquiring appropriate knowledge in spin recovery, not the ending step nor the only step. Again, I think that Catherine Cavagnaro was just suggesting to Natalie another arrow for her piloting quiver. The safe pilot is ALWAYS LEARNING, regardless if they hold a student pilot’s certificate or an ATP.

  4. To spin or not to spin, that is NOT the question.

    Loss of control accidents have NOTHING whatsoever to do with spins. They have everything to do with lack of awareness of angle-of-attack and the use of lift from the wing.

    In reading the words of Natalie Hoover and Rich Stover, my immediate reaction was, “You are both right … mostly.”

    First off, to Ms. Hoover I want to say, “You are spot on when you say, ‘question what you think you know!'” The number of old-wives-tales floating around aviation is innumerable, and most of them are promulgated by flight instructors because … well, that is what THEIR flight instructor told them. Call it what you will: Technedure, Tribal Knowledge, whatever. Regardless, if only we could get more CFIs and pilots to ask two very critical questions:

    1. Is it true?

    2. How can I absolutely know it is true?

    Think about these two questions and then lets move on to ‘spins’, or rather what I think the real problem is — understanding the relationship between turns, airspeed, lift, and AoA control — that leads up to LOC accidents.

    When we look at LOC accidents almost always someone says, “Yeah, they stalled and the airplane entered a spin.” Actually, the airplane stalled, fell off on a wing (after all, no matter what you do, one wing will be more stalled than the other) but it is NOT spinning. A spin requires two things: stall and rotation about the yaw axis, and I am going to add one other thing to that: time. It takes an airplane typically 1.5 to 3 turns to achieve a fully-developed spin. Until the airplane reaches the point of the fully-developed spin, it is still just a gyrating stalled airplane. Recovery can almost always be effected with nothing more than reducing the angle-of-attack, i.e. “unloading the wing”. So this is what we need to be teaching, not spins. If you have allowed the aircraft to reach the point of a fully-developed spin, you are already WAY too late with your recovery.

    Before proceeding, let me comment on spins since I do a lot of them in different aircraft and that is where this conversation seems to have begun. Yes, spin recovery involves all four items from PARE: reduce Power, neutralize the Aileron, apply Rudder opposite the direction of rotation, and move the Elevator in the direction that will reduce angle of attack. Like most things, the devil is in the details. In what order do you do these things? How much of each of these things do you do? Is there anything that will tell you how best to effect recovery from an incipient or fully-developed spin in the aircraft you are flying right now? (Hint: the recovery procedure may not be the same for both.) Is the Pilots and Operator’s Handbook (POH) useful in this respect?

    I am going to make a comment on POH here. In general I have found the POH to be a good starting point for flying a given aircraft. Look there first. However, in many cases there is missing or erroneous information in the POH and you are going to need to figure it out somehow. In the case of spins the only POH I have ever read that has a full discussion of spin behavior is the POH for the Mudry CAP10B.

    Mudry/Apex devoted two full pages to spin behavior of the CAP10B. It details the effect of CG and aileron input on the spin behavior and recovery process. It details how the rudder must be used. And while, if you understand the aerodynamics of a spinning aircraft these things seem relatively obvious, it is nice to have them addressed in a clear fashion for someone who doesn’t fully understand how and why airplanes spin.

    Of course, the CAP10B is an aerobatic trainer. One would expect all this to be addressed in the POH for an aerobatic airplane. I do not recall this being the case in the C150 Aerobat (I can’t find my Aerobat POH while I am writing this and encourage correction if I am wrong) or the Citabria. So if one POH is deficient, then it stands to reason others might be as well. Frankly, most POHs I have read are deficient in one area or another. Some even have patently false information and must be disregarded in some areas. (Engine management not related to installation issues is one such area.) It behooves the competent CFI to figure these things out so that she can present the information accurately to the student. That suggests that the CFI needs to TRY these things while making small addjustement to procedure seeking an optimum result. Is that Technedure? Perhaps. Is there a place for this? Definitely!

    But let’s get back to where I was going in the first place: it’s not about the spin.

    I regularly teach spins and upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT). I get CFI candidates and I give them the required spin training but I also show them that, if they reach the point where they need spin recovery training, they have long passed the point where proper recovery occurs. I have several scenarios I refer to as, “stupid student tricks,” so that the CFI candidate sees things that CAN happen (because in 25 years of being an active CFI, they have been done to me). Interestingly enough ONE procedure corrects a plethora of sins and recovers — unload, roll, recover to level. This is the basic UPRT maneuver. It is what every pilot should do instinctively when the aircraft becomes upset. If it needs to be instinctive, how do we build that instinct? I guarantee that, during recovery from the “base-to-final turn, stall/spin” scenario, the instinctive behavior is NOT this. The instinctive behavior is to pull on the stick/yoke which pretty much guaratees destruction of the aircraft and death of all aboard. The only way to fix this is to PRACTICE upset recovery on a regular basis until its execution becomes unconscious competence. The present reliance on stall avoidance and on automation will never get us to the point of eliminating this accident scenario. Only changing pilot behavior thorough understanding and repetition of correct behavior (what the FAA calls “learning”) is going to fix this problem.

    I apologize for taking so long in this response. There is just so much that needs to be said for us to understand, learn, and then teach our understanding to our students. I sincerely hope that others find these words useful in that process.

      1. In the Tomahawk:
        1. Power – off.
        2. Ailerons – neutral (and flaps – up if deployed).
        3. Rudder – full opposite and held.
        4. Elevator – however far forward it takes to finish off the spin (worst case, that’ll be fully forward).

        When rotation stops:
        5. Rudder – neutral.
        6. Elevator – easy pull to straight and level.

        Note that although the published procedure shows some of the elements in a different order from PARE, the all-important sequencing of rudder followed by elevator during recovery is in there.

        I’ve spun five different Tomahawks over the years; four of which were in New Zealand. FWIW, data I recorded in Tomahawk N7939N: One-turn spin average altitude loss = 650 feet; recovery in 3/8 to 1/2 turn. Three-turn spins 130 degrees per second rate of rotation; about 200 feet lost per turn; 3/4 turn for recovery. Average rate of descent was 4,300 FPM with 5 turns in the space of 1,000 feet of altitude.

      2. Interesting question. There are a couple of ways to approach this problem.

        First, read the POH and then try what it says. It is probably a way that works.

        Second, try the, “let go of everything and see what happens,” technique. This works with most aircraft too. (There are variations on this procedure as well, e.g. let go of the stick/yoke, but apply rudder opposite the direction of rotation.)

        Third, try variations of the theme of PARE. Close the throttle. That is a must. Aileron – neutral … maybe (see below). Next, as Rich has suggested, the Tomahawk responds better to rudder correction applied before applying elevator correction. I would definitely try that. I would also try rudder and elevator applied together. I would try differing amounts of elevator. Some aircraft respond better to a very positive push while others seem happy with just a relaxation of back-pressure. I would also experiment with some in-spin aileron (aileron in the direction of the spin tends to reduce the tendency toward autorotation) to see if that aids in recovery. PARE is just a starting point to remind you that you have to do SOMETHING with power, aileron, rudder, and elevator. Like I said before, the devil is in the details.

        As an aside, if you want a Cherokee to spin you need to try adding out-spin aileron during spin entry. On the other hand, if the student is flying, odds are she has already done that in an attempt to lift the dropping wing. That works well to get the airplane to enter an incipient spin.

        The key point is: every airplane is a little bit different, even different aircraft of the same type. Sometimes you just have to try a couple of things to see what works best then do it several times to cement the learning. Is that “Technedure?” Perhaps, but empirical data pretty much trumps everything else.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Brian. Some good information based on your experience, but also a few things to clarify:

      You said “Loss of control accidents have NOTHING whatsoever to do with spins. They have everything to do with lack of awareness of angle-of-attack and the use of lift from the wing.”

      LOC accidents occur not because of any one thing, but as the result of a series of links that form an accident chain. Break a link in the chain and the accident will be averted more often than not. I facilitated the Curricula Reform breakout session during SAFE’s General Aviation Pilot Training Reform Symposium in Atlanta in 2009. A key observation was that the early links in the accident chain arise largely from faulty aeronautical decision making (risk management, situational awareness, and so on), whereas the final link–the triggering event for LOC–is due to faulty stick and rudder skills.

      When searching for lessons to be learned from LOC accidents, we only need to answer these two questions: What was the pilot thinking? And, what was the pilot doing? The fact that many LOC accidents culminate in stall/spins is relevant to answering, “what was the pilot doing?” This goes to your comment that “the real problem is — understanding the relationship between turns, airspeed, lift, and AoA control.” A top-five recommendation from the Curricula Reform breakout group stated this as “emphasize load factor and angle of attack training.” This can be simplified to “increase elevator awareness.” This satisfies the stall awareness part of the Stall and Spin Awareness Training requirements. Adding “increase yaw awareness” to the mix completes the spin awareness part of the training.

      There seems to be a misconception that “spin training” means “developed spins.” Spin awareness training as delivered by specialists in UPRT, however, involves spinning mostly in the incipient phase. There is more learning and skill development for a trainee doing ten, one-turn spins, for example, than in doing one, ten-turn spin.

      We also need to be careful about discounting the incipient spin phase by labeling it “just a gyrating stall” that can “almost always” be remedied by unloading the wing. NASA referred to this as Elevator Only recovery controls during its spin research program, meaning “full trailing-edge-down elevator/stabilator while maintaining pro-spin rudder and aileron deflections.” While recoveries from one-turn incipient spins tended to be less sensitive to the recovery strategy employed, NASA Standard actions still produced the quickest and most consistent recoveries.

      The real question is, “at what point in a stall/spin departure should the pilot deploy proper spin recovery actions?” In response to a misleading magazine article in 2006, several training providers responded by forming the Council on Unusual Attitude Training and Education (CUATE). One of the things we did was to develop definitions for key UPRT terms, including:

      From http://www.stallspin.com/about-stall-spin/stall-spin_training.htm: “Inadvertent spin: An unintentional departure from controlled flight that involves simultaneously stalling and yawing, and that involves a change in bank angle of 60 degrees or a change in heading greater than 30 degrees, with an accompanying rate of change in bank angle or heading of at least 90 degrees per second.”

      The time aspect in the definition draws on the spin resistance design criteria adopted in 1991 for certification in the Normal category. The switch from a focus on stall recovery actions to spin recovery actions occurs at the start of the incipient spin phase. In the Manual on Upset Prevention and Recovery Training published by ICAO in 2014, a “developing upset” is defined as “any time the aeroplane begins to unintentionally diverge from the intended flight path or airspeed.” An airplane that is exceeding the parameters defined for an inadvertent spin is in a developing upset; hence, the pilot needs to deploy spin recovery actions.

      ICAO’s UPRT manual is built on a framework that integrates academics and practical training. The most effective UPRT programs address three key areas: awareness, prevention, and recovery. UPRT would be incomplete without the recovery component. The manual does not identify a single, basic UPRT maneuver, either. It addresses training elements that range from aerodynamics, to G-awareness, energy and flight path management, human factors, recognition, and recovery techniques. Specialized training elements include spiral dives, slow flight, steep turns, and stalls, plus nose high, nose low, and high bank angles.

  5. Lots of good words there Rich. I was trying to simplify things in pointing out that recovery needs to happen long before we need to resort to formal spin recovery. As soon as the pilot recognizes that the aircraft is upset (and maybe even before there is conscious recognition), begin upset recovery, not spin recovery.

    Yes, we can address the issues of aeronautical decision making in getting there in the first place and then not go there. But sometimes, stuff happens, and it comes down to executing the the correct, unconsciously-applied response.

    Case in point, when I was flying my Mooney around the world two years ago I experienced a real, honest-to-god upset. I was inbound to Yangon in Myanmar. I was on an IFR flight plan and had been handed off to Yangon approach. I was given a vector that had me headed for a cumulus cloud I didn’t like. I queried approach and checked my Stormscope. No electrical activity and only light rain reported by approach. So I opted to accept the vector and just expected some bumps.

    About 30 seconds into the cloud, it turned into a mature thunderstorm, complete with extreme turbulence. I was rolled about 130 degrees and ended up about 30 degrees nose down. My upset recovery training kicked in. In fact, as I was doing it, it was almost like I was an observer and my hands and feet just, “did the right thing.” I recovered about 90 degrees to my original heading and shortly exited the CB.

    The key point here is that, because I teach UPRT, I had done it often enough to reach the level of unconscious competence. There was no startle response. I just … did it.

    Here is what I consider to be a very key point with UPRT: talking about it does not qualify as training to do it. It needs to become an in-built, instinctive response. That is only achieved through repetition of the proper procedure.

    Let’s go flying together some day, Rich! I am always looking for better ways to fly and teach flying.

  6. Rich – I was curious what your experience was with the Tomahawk, or if you are aware of any studies, specifically of the airplane’s t-tail design and the possibility of it getting into a deep stall, as described in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge page 6-6. Thank you.

    1. Warren – Studies regarding deep stall, no. Regarding the potential for unacceptable spin behavior, lots!

      In 1996, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation published the book, “Safety Review – Piper Tomahawk PA-38-112.” Appendix B in my Stall/Spin book is dedicated to the Tomahawk spin issue, in which I dispute some of the claims made by AOPA. Aviation Safety magazine also published numerous articles about the Tomahawk.

      Did the Tomahawk have serious issues related to its spin behavior? My research suggests that it did.

      Do the issues persist to this day? Maybe, though fewer Tomahawks are probably getting spun, and attrition has probably removed a lot of the “bad” ones from the fleet.

      1. I fly a Piper Archer III whose POH identifies the REAP sequence for spin recovery. I am wondering why Power is last in that sequence, instead of first. Can any of you provide insight into why Power is last instead of first in the Archer III?

  7. Peter – I think it could be for the same reason that spins are prohibited. The Pipers are three feet less in length than the Skyhawks, which reduces the leverage of the tail to control pitch, so I’ve always assumed that that is the primary reason spins are prohibited in Pipers. But if a spin is accidentally entered, the pilot must get the nose down. Apparently leaving the power applied will provide better airflow and elevator authority with which to reduce the pitch. Then the power is reduced to minimize the increase in speed during the remainder of the recovery.

    1. Hi Peter and Warren. I have to disagree with Warren on multiple levels.

      Spins are always prohibited when in the Normal category, which includes the Normal Category in both the 172 and Archer. Regarding spin testing in the Utility category, the manufacturer can choose to treat the airplane as if it’s either in the Normal category or the Acrobatic category. If treated as Normal category, then the manufacturer only did one-turn spin tests and spins are not approved when in the Utility category. If treated as Acrobatic category, then the manufacturer had to satisfy the “up to six turns” spin testing requirements. If indeed the Acrobatic category spin test requirements were satisfied, then the airplane could be approved for intentional spins in the Utility category (i.e., the 172 when in the Utility category). Otherwise, intentional spins would not be approved in the airplane even when in the Utility category.

      Whether Piper tried to get the Archer approved for intentional spinning when in its Utility envelope but couldn’t meet the requirements, or Piper simply elected to treat the airplane as if it were Normal category as far as spins were concerned is anyone’s guess.

      The assertion that the pilot “must get the nose down” if a spin is accidentally entered is erroneous. The primary action for spin recovery in typical, light, single-engine airplanes is opposite rudder. In fact, the Piper procedure (flawed as its sequencing is) preserves the critical sequence of rudder-then-elevator as recommended by NASA.

      The notion that leaving power on during a spin provides better airflow/elevator authority with which to reduce the pitch is a longstanding myth. Upright flat spins you see at airshows in airplanes like a Pitts are generated as follows: rudder into the spin, elevator aft, then full power, then opposite aileron. If you really want more “flatness and fastness” after that, apply forward elevator — the nose does not pitch down!

      It took me nearly 10 years and 500+ pages to explain as much about spins as I could learn in my book, “Stall/Spin Awareness.” But here’s the short answer regarding “REAP” — spin test pilots do not write the flight manuals. Someone else assembles manuals from test pilot notes and boilerplate info. Finding the optimum sequencing of recovery actions is not required during spin testing for certification; satisfying the spin test requirements is the goal. Most of the test spins begin with power off and ailerons neutral from the start, or are reduced/neutralized once spinning begins. Then comes the main events: opposite rudder and forward elevator.

      Does REAP present the standard control positions for spin recovery? YES. Is REAP optimized for maximum recovery effect? NO. Look at the published procedures for the Archer II (1976-1998) and you’ll see the actions are listed in the PARE sequence. It is a shame that when tired-and-true NASA standard recovery actions work, manufacturers aren’t required to present it that way in their handbooks.

  8. Rich: How do I contact you? I would like about 5 minutes of your time. I know we have met and chatted multiple times at OSH but I don’t know how to reach you directly.


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