Tuesday, October 7, 2008


14 CFR part 61 requires that a student pilot receive and log flight training in stalls and stall recoveries prior to solo flight. During this training, the flight instructor should emphasize that the direct cause of every stall is an excessive angle of attack. The student pilot should fully understand that there are any number of flight maneuvers which may produce an increase in the wing’s angle of attack, but the stall does not occur until the angle of attack becomes excessive. This “critical” angle of attack varies from 16 to 20° depending on the airplane design.

The flight instructor must emphasize that low speed is not necessary to produce a stall. The wing can be brought to an excessive angle of attack at any speed. High pitch attitude is not an absolute indication of proximity to a stall. Some airplanes are capable of vertical flight with a corresponding low angle of attack. Most airplanes are quite capable of stalling at a level or near level pitch attitude.

The key to stall awareness is the pilot’s ability to visualize the wing’s angle of attack in any particular circumstance, and thereby be able to estimate his/her margin of safety above stall. This is a learned skill that must be acquired early in flight training and carried through the pilot’s entire flying career. The pilot must understand and appreciate factors such as airspeed, pitch attitude, load factor, relative wind, power setting, and aircraft configuration in order to develop a reasonably accurate mental picture of the wing’s angle of attack at any particular time. It is essential to flight safety that a pilot take into consideration this visualization of the wing’s angle of attack prior to entering any flight maneuver.

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