04 September 1982

Go for a spin?

September 4, 1982

I had just soloed and had now earned the privilege to fly to the local practice area. On a beautiful, calm Saturday morning I flew the Cessna 152 up to 10,000 feet. Once there, I put the airplane through the usual student maneuvers, including stalls. (An airplane stalls when the wing no longer develops lift due to a high angle of attack relative to the wind. This phenomenon is much like a balsa-wood glider that starts a loop, stops, and falls to the ground. It has nothing to do with turning off the engine.)

When I decreased the power and pulled the nose up, the airplane entered the stall and went slightly off to the right. I made two mistakes. First I did not immediately push the yoke forward to break the stall and second I stepped on the right rudder instead of the left. The airplane then began to shudder and start to fall over into a spin. For a split second the airplane was out of my control. After a second or two, I pushed the nose as far forward as I could and added full power. Instead of entering a spin the airplane shuddered for a second or two and began flying again.

I have been told that if you take your hands off the controls of a Cessna 152, it will fly itself out of a spin. But I was not prepared to be a test pilot then.

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