Another fun flying lesson today, spin recovery training. A spin is a terrifying flight maneuver where the wings are stalled, you're pointed down towards the ground, and the plane is spinning out of control about once a second. You never want to go anywhere near a spin in ordinary flight, it's a good way to end up dead fast. But in the right plane with a pilot who knows what he's doing a spin is kinda cool.

Spin training is a bit controversial in flight instruction. It's no longer required because too many students (and instructors!) killed themselves trying it. And spin recovery training isn't clearly useful; the most likely circumstance where you'd spin by accident is at takeoff or landing where you won't have enough altitude to recover anyway. So flight training is focussed instead on recognizing when a stall is about to occur and recovering before a spin ever develops. But I wanted to try spinning to get a sense for what's over the horizon, how much further you can push a plane and live to tell about it. Also, spinning a plane turns out to be super fun. Queasy, dizzyness-inducing fun, like a rollercoster. But I have new confidence having learnt how to recover from a challenging flight condition. I hope never to spin a plane again, but now I know what it's like.

The most fun part of my lesson turned out to be flying the Super Decathlon, the aerobatic plane we used for spin training. I've been learning in Skyhawks, the minivans of aviation. Big, comfortable, good for travel, and mushy clumsy handling. By contrast, the Decathlon is a little sporty coupe. My first turn surprised me; I was only beginning to think about turning when we were already in a 30° bank just perfect for making that turn. Very fun flying something so nimble.

  2010-03-18 01:59 Z