Near-Fatal Spin on First Solo

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by PrivatePassenger, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What's the difference? At least in your plane, if you keep pulling until the nose drops, you're stalled. In fact, I think in PA28's you have to pull fairly aggressively to get the nose to drop, it's also possible to do a falling leaf where you hold the nose up and just mush down.
     
  2. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The nose will drop in a PA28, but it's very subtle unless you yank HARD. If your eyes are on the TC to keep the ball centered, you will miss it. If they are on the horizon where they should be, you probably won't.
     
  3. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And when you try and do power on stalls in them when it's -10F with half tanks, it feels like you are going to go over backwards before you get any indication of a stall.
     
  4. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, that's pretty much what I remembered. Haven't stalled a PA28 in years, but it's pretty benign.
     
  5. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    On the other hand, the full-power stall I did in a right 30 deg climbing bank in a 172 for my flight review was very noticeable. Including the over-the-top incipient spin (oops).
     
  6. Cruiser

    Cruiser Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Nice story. I really like the use of adjectives to emphasis the issues. You have a very good memory considering the detail of this story. I am surprised you couldn't remember the correct sequence of actions to recovery though.
    At 35 hrs and 175 landings you have spent a lot of time in the pattern.

    I would suggest you keep a diary of your time in the airplane, your writing leaves a vivid image in my mind, as if I was right there with you. Even if you don't get your certificate, you have a great future as a story teller/writer.
     
  7. NickC99

    NickC99 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I can understand how you feel. I started training on a 172 but switched to a 152 last year to save $. This particular plane has a reputation of dropping the left wing in a power-off stall. My instructor mentioned it and noted that I should use a little right rudder right before the break to stay coordinated.

    Of course, one day I didn't remember - during a power-off stall, that wing dropped :yikes: and scared the bejeebus outta me! Fortunately, we didn't spin, but it was a good lesson. The incident got me to mentally ingrain coordination and PARE.

    I kept training even though shaken about the incident and didn't have any more issues - until my pre-solo phase check. On the power-on stall, I was anxious to make the plane stall, so I shoved the power and grabbed way too much yoke :mad2:. That left wing made me remember it again and dropped like a bad habit. I immediately remembered to hit opposite rudder and recovered fairly quickly. What I didn't do right was also adding right aileron after right rudder. I felt the plane about to drop left again and neutralized ailerons quickly. This was also a good learning lesson about using rudder and neutralizing ailerons. I have to give kudos to the CFI because he said he saw the whole thing coming and that I definitely set us up for a spin. He stayed calm the whole time (or at least appeared to be) and didn't touch the controls.

    I also gained an appreciation for being a CFI. Letting students get into these types of situations (supervised) can't be easy. These experiences are the best way to learn and staying calm as a CFI has got to only come with experience.

    Point: Mentally ingrain spin recovery techniques. Imagine yourself doing them in your head. Even if you can't actually practice them, your brain will remember.
    And, keep training. It's a lesson learned (a good one).
     
  8. jspilot

    jspilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    Wow I bet you are glad you read that book.

    Shockingly poor judgement to allow a student pilot to practice maneuvers on their own at 35 hours. My flight school did not allow maneuvers to be practiced unless an instructor was on board!
     
  9. EdFred

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    Uh, at 35 hours I was almost signed off for the check ride. I was approved to do anything solo that we had practiced at 15 hours. Sounds more like a shockingly poor flight school if at 35 hours they don't trust you.
     
  10. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What Ed said. At 20ish hours, I was signed off to solo. Period. Not "solo in the pattern." My restrictions were based on weather, and my first solo was just in the pattern, the traditional three bang-and-goes. However, I never had to be signed off for anything after that - I think my second solo was out to the practice area with no prior consultation with my CFI to do whatever maneuvers we'd been working on. (EDIT: I just looked, I was wrong - My second solo was my first solo cross country. But I never had to ask my CFI if it was OK to do anything within the FARs and the weather restrictions on my initial solo endorsement.)

    Anyone who isn't safe to practice maneuvers on their own at 35 hours is below average, IMO - And by that I mean it's going to take them longer than the supposed national average of 70 hours to finish their ticket.

    jspilot, I sure hope you didn't mean that and your tongue was firmly planted in your cheek. Try a smilie next time. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  11. loch1957

    loch1957 Pre-Flight

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    Whats a spin? Oh wait i fly an ercoupe,,,never mind. :D
     
  12. jspilot

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    Ummm no- believe me this school is one of the best in the tri-state area and trains many pilots for the surrounding local universities. So good try.

    But my point is, 35 hours is not enough experience at anything to be going out and practicing solo maneuvers. My point is made by the fact that the original poster almost killed himself and probably would have had he not read a book. I know everyone here wants to think they are air force level pilots when they claim things but lets be real here. For every 1 pilot who is ready for their checkride at 40 hours there are another 10 who will take a lot longer than that. Safety is the most important thing in training-- not how fast you can get it done so that you can claim you got you license in 41 hours. Big deal. I'd rather be safer considering once you get your license you get very little additional training unless you seek it out.
     
  13. david0tey

    david0tey Line Up and Wait

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    The real problem here is that he forgot to put the placard in that prohibited unintentional spins. This issue could have been avoided altogether. :D
     
  14. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sounds like the only thing the school is good at is convincing people they need way more hours in order to keep bringing in money. 35 hours is more than enough, and if it's not, the instructors are for ****. Sorry, I call 'em like I see 'em, and all I see is a flight school milking people for money. By 35 hours, anyone should have done at least two solo cross countries, and have a handle on the plane. If the person hasn't, I put that 100% on the flight school and their half-ass instruction. And I say that as an instructor.
     
  15. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    D'oh! That's it!!
     
  16. flyingcheesehead

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    Quantity ≠ quality.

    How much do you think is enough??? IMO, 80% of pilots should be able to solo by 25 hours and be practicing maneuvers on their own, SAFELY, by 35 hours - Provided they're able to train regularly and don't have to switch instructors.

    Actually, I think that makes Ed's point more than your own. If 35 hours wasn't enough to practice maneuvers, there would be MANY people having problems and accidents while solo and doing maneuvers at that level of time. The fact that there aren't many of these accidents at all indicates that the OP has not been well taught by his instructor, not that 35 hours is unsafe across the board for people to be practicing on their own.

    Agreed, but even if the national average really is 70 hours (I've heard it's actually closer to the 55-60 range), halfway there should be enough to practice maneuvers safely.

    How many hours do you think is enough to go out and practice Private PTS maneuvers solo???

    Agreed, safety is the most important thing, and not enough people get additional training post-Private. However, I'd suggest that dragging out Private Pilot training in the name of "safety" is one of the things that contributes to people not getting additional training! They are either sick of getting dual, or they figure they've spent enough $$$ on the CFI, or they figure that with all that training they got, they know everything they need to learn from an instructor.

    OTOH, while I got my Private at 42 hours and change, I got a lot more instruction afterwards because I wasn't burned out on getting dual. My very first flight post-PP-ASEL was not taking friends or family for rides, it was dual instruction getting checked out in another aircraft type. I got lots of dual shortly after my private, getting checked out in new types, picking up high performance and complex endorsements, starting instrument training, etc. In fact, I'd bet that my first 100 hours post-Private were at least a third dual received, probably more.

    You've gotta let the baby birds out of the nest sometime. Allowing them to practice maneuvers they should have mastered prior to solo is a GOOD and safe thing.
     
  17. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's interesting the OP said Stick and Rudder saved his bacon, not anything his CFI taught him.

    --

    When I first started training, I called a couple CFIs to talk to them first. One guy, older, said, "Whoever you choose, read Stick and Rudder first." So I did. (I found out later that particular CFI had a stroke not long after that conversation and never flew again.)
     
  18. rottydaddy

    rottydaddy En-Route

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    I think "unsupervised solo" here refers to the first solo flight out of the pattern. It's usually a trip to some area where maneuvers have been practiced before.
    I will say the OP did two things right: picked a healthy altitude to do these maneuvers, and paid attention to Langeweische, who knew what he was talking about. :D
    And I'll echo the others who advise the OP to get back on the horse immediately... best thing would be to go do some spins with an instructor who's used to demonstrating them. During this lesson, the first goal should be to try to re-create exactly what led to the inadvertent spin.Then get a feel for recovering briskly.

    I had also read Stick and Rudder (before I even started flight training), but actually entering a spin later (albeit for only a half-turn) with my instructor, in the plane I usually flew, really enhanced my understanding of how to recover.
    Some years later, I had a similar lesson (two full turns, in a glider, with recovery at a speed quite close to Vne), and that really helped "internalize" it.
    We all like to think we'll never enter a spin by accident, but that's a poor excuse to never try recovering from one, just in case. Nobody takes off thinking "I'm going to inadvertently spin the airplane today", but plenty of smart pilots think "if I do enter a spin, I know how to recover."
     
  19. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    Isn't that missing an S in the front? For Scream...or something else?
     
  20. Unregistered

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    You all are a great example of why I now want nothing to do with aviation; even though it used to be a childhood dream.
     
  21. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    By "something else" are you referring to an unintentional and smelly underware deposit?
     
  22. warthog1984

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    How so? Aviation is a wonderful thing and being a pilot is a fantastic accomplishment that 90%+ of the population is capable of.

    But it can and will kill the unwary. Anybody who wants to be a pilot has to accept that when you leave the ground on every flight, YOU are the only one that can get you back on the ground in one piece, and there is a time limit.

    If you are scared of the plane, you have to either get over it or train past it. If you cannot accept this or want to be perfectly safe, take up another hobby.:dunno:
     
  23. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's a rather wide sweeping statement with little or no meaning given the lack of context. And what's with the anonymity?
     
  24. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    One can always find reasons NOT to do things.
     
  25. silver-eagle

    silver-eagle En-Route

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    Good grief all you boobs. Have you forgotten what it was like when you were a student learning something brand new to you? Flight instruction is like a fire hose wide open. New concepts are hard to absorb at 3,000' while they are happening. I would bet the instructor covered spin recovery each time they did slow flight. That it did not register until the poor OP read it in a book is not at all suprising. 100's of things I've been through haven't.
    It was obvious it was a first unsupervised solo. And quite probably the instructor had not sent the young plebe off to do stalls but how many of us have gone that extra mile during class?
    Good that you had recovered and were around to tell us the story otherwise these same boobs telling you to get a new instructor would be hanging you in effigy for your obvious mistakes. That and your instructor who, while some do not believe so, probably instilled enough skill in your young self to know how to recover.
     
  26. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    I notice that the original poster (OP) hasn't logged in since April 7, so unless he or she is reading this thread while not logged in, the OP isn't going to be affected one way or another by our comments.

    I'm not sure how I would have reacted to surviving unintentional entry into a spin. I remember the angst felt prior to solo flights (even dual, for that matter) - though it seemed to vanish once I was buckled in and the engine started. But would return some during slow flight and stall practice. I did think about what was needed to recover from a spin before my first solo attempts at stalls. I worried enough that I practiced the recovery steps on MS Flight Simulator using an aircraft model that easily entered spins and was impossible to stop spinning if you used ailerons before stopping the rotation with rudder.
     
  27. redtail

    redtail En-Route

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    I couldn't get any of the default planes to spin or sideslip in MSFS/FSX.

    Let me guess, you bought the SIAI-Marchetti SF260 by RealAir:wink2:.
    That is one of the most impressive addon planes available for MSFS.
     
  28. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I did full stalls a few times in training in a Cessna. My Commander has vortex generators & they reduce the stall speed enough that I often get to max nose-up attitude before stalling.
     
  29. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Not that airplane, though it sounds intriguing!

    Flight1's Cessna 152 addon for FS9 (2004), of all things. I suppose it could more accurately be described as entering an aggressive nose down roll once a wing drops, but because it only seemed to respond to rudder input until the roll/spin slowed I found it useful in conditioning me to use rudder and lay off the aileron.

    I also have Carenado's C-152 addon - though I don't think I've tried spins in it, but allegedly it can be spun. (My CH yoke and rudder have been gathering dust the last few months.) Other users seem to find it has more realistic flight dynamics than other 152 addons, but I always found the Flight1 model was easiest to taxi using CH Products' rudder pedals, so gravitate toward that on FS9. Frustrating to have to muck with the rudder adjustments to get other addons from being so twitchy during taxi.
     
  30. Timmer

    Timmer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Off-Topic, but as a long time FSX user, the only planes I value as far as their physics go are by Real Air Simulations. Real Air's Scout/Decathalon package, Duke, and Lancair are amazing as are the others, I'm sure. All of their planes will skid into spins, do slips, stalls, and the like pretty close to as expected.

    They are working on a 172N next which I cannot wait for as there is still no decent 172 for FSX.

    PMDG also does great planes, but at the airline level.

    Carenado's usually look great and can be fun to fly but are usually surface-level only as far as simulation, which is fine for just zooming around for some light-hearted fun.
     
  31. jspilot

    jspilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    My entire thought process involving PPL training is, when you consider how much their is to learn, and how relatively liberating the completion of training is, the amount of time some pilots get in terms of flying the planes is shockingly low. With people claiming that flight schools should be soloing students in 20 hours, cross countries by 35 hours and checkrides by 45 let's actually consider how much training that pilot is getting. If a person solos at 20 hours that's roughly 10-15 lessons with an instructor. That's hardly any time at all and I doubt that instructor is talking ir for that matter teaching, the entire time the plane is flying! It's just not enough experience, in my opinion, to be able to do all the tasks involved in succesfuly flying an airplane. I know some here like to claim that any person who can't fly a plane with that level of experience is a poor pilot or the school is terrible but it just is simply looking to blame something under the vail that you are looking out for the poor pilot who is getting taken advantage of by the money hungry flight school.

    I'll never understand why people want to blame flight schools for trying to teach pilots how to be safe. Even if that means the pilot has a few more hours of training. The only reason people can even do this is because their are very few federal laws regulating time required to be eligible for the PPL check ride. Therefore, all we are left with is a standard or average to base claims of "readiness" on. As a result some people claim pilots are ready in 20 hours to solo when others claim pilots are ready in more time. That's why is is a debatable fact but teaching a task requires time. No right thinking person would claim some surgeons are "ready" to perform surgery after half their study because people recognize that they need to learn everything they can before performing the task. Yet, with flying, we are ok allowing someone to fly a plane on their own( essentially acting in the same fashion they will as a private pilot) with about half the total training. I know its been done this way fore ever but the logic is just not really there.

    In other words, blaming a school for teaching someone do to something well would be laughed at in every other context except for flight training I guess.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  32. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The problem is, you're making the assumption that all student pilots are exactly the same and all training is conducted in the same manner. And that more hours = better training/more safety. It's just an easy trap to fall into because hours are easily quantified, whereas judgement, safety, and skill are not.

    As you point out, "I doubt that instructor is talking ir for that matter teaching, the entire time the plane is flying!" And that is the root of the problem. The airplane is a ****ty classroom. The student's brain is tied up with all of the new-ish sensations, control responses, etc. and doesn't have any bandwidth left to process anything the instructor says, and will probably remember little to none of it.

    A good instructor is going to spend a LOT more time on the ground than a bad one. I attributed my getting the PP-ASEL so quickly to spending over a year on the ground reading books and forums and soaking up as much knowledge about how everything worked as possible. When I got in the airplane, there weren't any surprises.

    You seem to equate more flight time to more safety. That is NOT the case. Better understanding leads to more safety, and more ground time leads to better understanding, not more flight time - Again, the airplane is a ****ty classroom. More flight time without more ground time simply means the student is having to figure things out on their own more in the airplane because it's hard to learn from the instructor while trying to fly the plane.

    So yes, if a school can't get 80% of their students soloed in 20-25 hours of FLIGHT time, that means they are a bad school because they're not putting in enough GROUND time. Sadly, this is all too often the case because flight instructors are simply trying to build time to get their airline job and ground time doesn't get them any closer while soaking the student by trying to teach them everything in flight does.
     
  33. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Ejection Handle Pulled

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    So from what you are saying all of my students that earned their PPL with less than 50 hours were clearly not safe and should have failed.......

    It is imposible to fairly evaluate a pilots ability or preparation for doing any particular activity in an airplane based on their flight time. Your judgement of the instructor/school as poor just because he was practicing maneuvers at 35 hours is invalid.

    Just because some used car salesman that owns a flight school convinced you it was in your best interest to pay 3 times as much money for your training doesn't make all of the sales pitch actually true.
     
  34. jspilot

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    I'm not making this personal and I'm sure it's possible to learn a skill faster. The issue is with the expectation that a skill be mastered well enough for a pilot to take command of an airplane with relatively little instruction. I soloed at 40 hours and passed my check ride at 62. I'm right there in the national average so I was not milked for any more money. My point simply is that soloing a student with as little as 20 hours( or I've read fewer) just seems unsafe to me. That's it-- nothing to do with quality of instruction or how well that pilot can fly a plane. It's just too short an amount of time to learn the skills required to be prepared for what may come up. The original poster in this thread admitted that had he not read a book about spin recovery he would not have known how to recover. He was not tought that prior to his solo trip gone wrong.
     
  35. jspilot

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    I respect what you have to say here and I agree with a lot of it. Just one thing, I'm not assuming all instruction is the same or that all pilots are the same. In fact I believe many people who argue that all pilots should solo by 25 hours make that claim with far more conviction than I am. I'm just suggesting that rushing training to accomplish the end goal quickly does not mean pilots are getting trained well.

    It's just illogical to say to anyone that with only half of your training time or one third of your training time if you solo at 20 hours but pass your checkride at 60, that someone is ready to assume the responsibilites of being a pilot. It just does not make sense and I would say that aviation is very rare in this instance. Why do we not solo pilots closer to the 3/4 mark of their training? I just don't get that. In my chosen profession, teaching, all student teachers are set loose on students usually in their final year of college. Why? Well because the understanding is these student teachers don't know enoigh to be teachers half way through. That makes sense to me. One could easily argue that the stakes of failure as a student teacher are far less than failure as a student pilot but yet we approach both situations in completely different ways.

    Far be it from me to try and change the system but I think it is interessting!
     
  36. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    The really simple solution is to simply teach spins. Sigh. Worked for me. :shrug:
     
  37. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes, and there are no two situations alike, so I dislike the absolutes. That's why I'm suggesting the "80% by 25 hours" and earlier in the thread also included the caveat that everything is going according to a normal training plan - There are plenty of people who will be delayed by having to switch CFI's, airplanes, there's bad weather for 15 lessons in a row, scheduling problems, maintenance problems, etc. etc. But if someone is flying 2-3 times per week in the same plane with the same CFI, I believe the 80% by 25 hours is both doable and safe.

    A pilot doesn't need to know everything to solo. They need to know how to operate in their home airport's environment and be able to find it in good day VFR conditions. Remember, a solo student still can't go on a cross country, can't fly at night, generally can't fly with marginal weather (assuming the CFI imposes normal restrictions on their solo endorsement), can't fly in class B airspace, etc... They just need to know how to do a limited number of maneuvers, land, and execute emergency procedures.

    In contrast to your example of student teachers starting to do their jobs late in their training/education, engineering students often are doing internships and co-ops well before the halfway mark. My sister, for example, began as a Co-op engineer at NASA after her freshman year of college.

    Given the number of requirements that can be satisfied post-solo, I don't think it's odd at all to have pilots soloing before the halfway point. They probably have gotten most of the instruction they're going to get pre-checkride on the things they actually need to know. In the case of the OP, the CFI clearly was deficient in teaching about spins and spin recovery, and that's a mistake - But the hours, IMO, is not.
     
  38. wrighthenry

    wrighthenry Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I soloed at 13 hours and got my ticket at 47. I certainly didn't/don't know everything but I've yet to feel unprepared for a flight or unsafe. I do still treat every flight like a lesson to learn and over prepare for each time I go up and I keep my minimums ultra conservative. I don't believe I would be appreciably safer if I would have doubled my hours with a cfi before my checkride. As someone has already said, it's highly personal
     
  39. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Yes! If you are taught spins and unusual attitude recovery it will be burned into your memory especially when in the pattern as it becomes obvious if you stall in the pattern you will die. It's a shame spin recovery is no longer required except in the military. If you recovered from a spin only by accident, something is wrong with the training.
     
  40. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    My God. Jimmy and I agree on something. Hell may freeze over shortly. :)