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Teaching Stalls Without Anxiety

Do your students get antsy about stalls? You can ease their pain by changing the way you approach stall training. When you prepare to teach stalls, say something like this: "The lesson plan today is learning to fly slowly."

Avoid saying, "We are going to stall the airplane." Some sensitive students might feel anxiety or even panic at that idea. We are going to stall-deliberately? Yup. Isn't that dangerous? Nope. But will the anxious student believe you? Nope. Avoid, if you can, anything that the student might feel is dangerous. To some, stall is a scare word. It need not be.

Explain that you are simply going to learn how the airplane flies when it is moving slowly. There is less noise from air rushing over the cabin. The controls feel mushy, losing the crisp response feel they have during flight at cruise speed. That mushy sensation is what you want your students to experience, but you should introduce it gradually.

In a Cessna 152, for example, start by reducing the power so that the airplane slows to 80 knots. The objective is to learn how the controls react during slow flight. Perform some training exercises at 80 knots, and then begin slowing down, in gradual steps, as the student develops rudder skills. Eventually you will have the student doing stalls with proper control actions-and no fear.

To help the student learn about mushy controls and rudder operation, go through some control exercises to demonstrate what mushy means. Start by moving the ailerons without applying rudder. This will demonstrate adverse yaw. Explain to the student what adverse yaw is and why it happens. Now, holding the ailerons steady, move the rudder and see what happens-the wing goes down and the nose turns toward the rudder. Straighten the airplane with the opposite rudder. Do this both ways. There's no hurry. Just let the student experience the way the controls work. All of this allows the student to understand the way the controls feel and act during slow flight leading up to stalls.

Be sure to slow the airplane in steps. From 80 knots, reduce the airspeed to 60 knots. Now go through the same rudder and aileron actions. En-courage the student to notice the increased mushiness.

Then have the student make a few shallow turns. Roll slowly from bank to bank in order to develop control timing. If your timing is good, the nose will continue to point straight ahead as the airplane rolls from side to side.

Starting at 60 knots, lift the nose and slow to 50 knots. To hold this airspeed, the student will need to hold back pressure. Adjust the trim.

Now, flying at 50 knots and holding a heading, lift the nose some more. By now, the controls will feel very mushy. As the aircraft approaches minimum controllable airspeed, explain how to feel the buffet. The airplane is beginning to stall. The student has already learned rudder use and timing and is now beginning to learn the control actions needed to keep the airplane level and on a heading. By reducing the angle of attack, you can increase the airspeed until you are again flying at 50 knots.

The student is gradually learning how to stall. If you skip all of these incremental steps and go directly to big stalls, the student will have more trouble learning to control the stall action, will experience a lot more anxiety, and will never enjoy the fun of stalling with confidence and comfort.

By Ken Medley

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