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Technique - Power-off stall

When the wing stops flying

By now we hope you know that stalling has nothing to do with the engine (we say those “quit”), but are you calm, cool, and collected while practicing this fundamental maneuver? Most pilots aren’t. Power-off stalls should become fairly easy and routine with the right technique and a bit of practice.
Power Off Stall
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Power Off Stall

Varying degrees of stalls

Many pilots are afraid to make the airplane perform full stalls, or they become impatient waiting for it to stall, so they recover before the airplane actually stalls. This is called an incipient stall, and while it’s a good situation to recognize and avoid in the real world, it’s not sufficient for the practical test.

Practice versus reality

Although stall practice itself is very safe, real-world stalls continue to be a safety concern. One theory of why rests in the fact that our stall practice is completely divorced from reality. Nowhere is this more evident than straight-ahead power-off stalls. Stalls rarely occur while flying straight and with a long, relaxed set-up. They seem to more often occur with distractions, while turning, and in the traffic pattern.

Practical Test Standards

Objective: To determine that the applicant:

  1. Exhibits satisfactory knowledge of the elements related to power-off stalls.
  2. Selects an entry altitude that allows the task to be completed no lower than 1, 500 feet above ground level.
  3. Establishes a stabilized descent in the approach or landing configuration, as specified by the examiner.
  4. Transitions smoothly from the approach or landing attitude to a pitch attitude that will induce a stall.
  5. Maintains a specified heading, plus/minus 10 degrees, if in straight flight; maintains a specified angle of bank, not to exceed 20 degrees, plus/minus 10 degrees; if in turning flight while inducing the stall.
  6. Recognizes and recovers promptly after a fully developed stall occurs.
  7. Retracts the flaps to the recommended setting; retracts the landing gear, if retractable, after a positive rate of climb bis established.
  8. Accelerates to VX or VY speed before the final flap retraction; returns to the altitude, heading, and airspeed specified by the examiner.
Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.
Topics: Technique

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