Spin / Spins

Spin / Spins

Description

Preventing Loss of Control
In the pioneer days of aviation, pilots lived in fear of the mysterious spiral dive (known today as a spin). No one understood how, or why, an aircraft would inadvertently begin an uncontrollable spiraling decent—partly because no one had ever lived through such an ordeal to share it. No one, that is, until 22-year-old Lieutenant Wilfred Parke of Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) survived a spin from traffic pattern altitude with several onlookers witnessing his actions.
Lieutenant Parke found himself at the controls of an experimental biplane, called the Avro G, on a windy, summer morning in 1912. Parke had a passenger that day, a fellow RAF pilot, who sat out the three-hour flight in the front seat of the Avro G. The aircraft was one of the first to feature a completely enclosed cabin. Without a functioning windscreen in the cabin, forward visibility was limited to looking out one of the side windows.
To compensate for his lack of windscreen and improve his visibility of the landing area, Parke was experimenting with higher than normal bank angles in the final turn. From an altitude of only 600 feet above the airfield, Lieutenant Parke throttled back and commenced a steeply banked descent. As his aircraft began the turn, Parke felt the aircraft shudder as one of the wings unintentionally dropped, twisting the biplane into the dreaded spiral dive. The young lieutenant found himself thrown against the right side of the cabin as his airplane spun violently to the left. Not knowing what to do, Parke opened the throttle and pulled back on the stick—exactly the wrong thing to do—this served only to tighten the spiral dive.
The centrifugal force of the spin caused Lieutenant Parke to release the controls as he desperately reached for anything in the cockpit to stabilize himself. It was during that desperate flail that Parke had the wild idea of applying full rudder in the direction opposite the spin. Parke managed to get his feet on the rudder pedals and apply what would be a life-saving control input. The aircraft immediately recovered from the spin and Parke regained control by the time the Avro G was a mere 50 feet above the ground.
Onlookers were stunned and rushed to greet the shaken, yet jubilant, Parke and his passenger. Word spread quickly of Parke's spin recovery, and an article documenting the experience was published in Flight Magazine. Thanks to Parke's recollection of his actions and the observations of the onlookers, the veil over the mysterious spiral dive began to lift. Spin recovery techniques were further honed, and less than five years later, spin recovery training was a standard part of each RAF pilot's flight education. The RAF began building a culture of safety by propagating critical flight safety knowledge throughout their flying community. As a flight instructor, you must continue this tradition of spreading the word on stall and spin awareness!



Studentpilot, privatepilot, commercialpilot, flightinstructor, CFI
Detailed Information
Detailed Description
A spin is a special category of stall resulting in autorotation about the vertical axis and a shallow, rotating, downward path. Spins can be entered intentionally or unintentionally, from any flight attitude if the aircraft has sufficient yaw while at the stall point
Today in Aviation History
January 20, 1918: Air Services I Army Corps Headquarters organized at Neufchateau, France.