Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Five questions: Spencer Suderman

Meet the spin doctor

Airshow performer and IT engineer Spencer Suderman set the record for the most inverted flat spins performed in an aircraft on March 20, 2016. He performed 98 consecutive flat spins in a Sunbird S-1x sport biplane at 24,500 feet over the Sauceda Mountains in Arizona. 

P&E March1. Why a spin record?
Aviation records tend to fall into three categories: Higher, faster, farther. The current records are so extreme that it is beyond state-of-the-art technology—and my budget—to go after them. The inverted flat spin world record is interesting, different, unique, and awe-inspiring!

2. The first spin…and the last?
The first spin makes me nervous; so much goes through my mind about airplane performance, my performance, and anticipation. As the spin rate increases and stabilizes, I relax as I confirm the airplane is working like I expect. The last spin is a relief; I have been hanging upside-down for three minutes at negative 1.5 G, my right leg is tired and shaking from keeping the rudder to the firewall.

3. What are you thinking about?
I am totally in the moment and focused on aircraft performance. My scan goes like this: Altimeter to oil pressure to oil temperature to EGT then repeat. I look for rises in EGT, which will be followed by a movement of the mixture control to increase (enrichen) fuel flow. All this while thinking about my right foot on the rudder, left hand holding full throttle except when I adjust mixture, and right hand holding the stick in the upper right corner.

4. Why is spin training important?
Students must experience full stalls and spins to: 1) not fear them; and, 2) be capable of recognizing and recovering them virtually without overthinking the situation.

5. Advice for student pilots?
I tell all pilots, both students and certificated, to get spin and unusual attitude training. It might make you uncomfortable; however, it will definitely make you safer. Don’t just do it once, stay current by refreshing that training periodically.

Related Articles