Spinning Part 1 – Overcoming the Fear of Spinning

Adrian Willis
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During your flying training, you may have been lucky enough to experience a spin. Unfortunately it is no-longer a syllabus requirement for either the PPL or CPL course. So quite probably you will only have been taught how to avoid spin situations. Undoubtedly this absence of experience will have contributed to the mystique of the spin.

I remember very clearly a good friend talking to me one morning about his desire for some proper spin training.  I had to take my student to the Little Gransden Beginners day, when I arrived, the airfield owner telephoned me to say that there had been an accident and this same person had an engine failure and spun at low level into the ground. If only we had done a single trip together he would be alive today! Spin training would undoubtedly have made him much more aware of pre spin conditions and certainly would have instilled the reactions necessary to avoid entering  or at the very worst would have provided the tools necessary to smartly recover from a wing drop.  I certainly believe that it was a bad decision to remove spinning from the PPL syllabus. Certainly there is a growing list of Commercial Airline accidents and “occurances” that have led many of the worlds aviation authorities, including EASA to reach the same conclusion and from 2018 onwards, all newly qualified commercial pilots will be required to have undergone upset prevention and recovery training. We recommend every pilot completes our Spinning and Upset Recovery Course At the end of this course you will be fully  equipped to avoid spins and recover from them with out delay at every stage and will understand them fully. The course also covers many other flight upset situations and you will end up a much better pilot and will certainly thoroughly enjoy the learning experience.

Having started with a morbid account that reinforces the need for spin training, it is reassuring to remember that spinning does not kill people, but hitting the ground does! We make very sure this does not happen.  We operate to a base height of 1,000 feet. This means that we aim to be fully recovered from any “botched up” maneouvre by 1,000 feet.  In actual fact, since recovery from botched up maneouvres is key to the learning process, I would allow enough height for the student to be able to recover, get this wrong and still have sufficient height to recover myself before passing 1,000 ft.  Of course part of the aim of spin training is to grow justifiable confidence, so we measure the height at spin entry and at spin exit and we count each half turn and recover on heading. After many repetitions we can be absolutely certain and confident of being able to precisely control every aspect of the spin.

It is perfectly normal to have a degree of anxiety prior to spinning, indeed it would be unhealthy not to have a strong self preservation instinct. Certainly in aerobatic circles almost everybody will admit to being anxious before their first solo spin. Indeed overcoming these hurdles is one of the joys of the sport but is reassuring to know that everybody who has made the journey has felt the same way.  The moto of No 1 Parachute Training School is “Knowledge Dispels Fear”. This is certainly true and to overcome a fear of spinning requires proper training in a professional environment and lots of practice.

This post is part of a 7 part series on spinning. To make sure that you get all of the
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