# Stall base to final.. question on the pattern

#### francisco collazos

##### Pre-takeoff checklist
So I have been wondering if stalls from base to final are more likely if the downwind lag is closer to the airport? The pilot makes the turn to base and then has to turn final when closer to the approach end therefore over/undershooting the approach. So my question is based on this assumption,if this is one of the leading causes of crashes wouldn't it make more sense to teach wider patterns? Of course people are going to say to stay close to the airport in case of an engine out but it seems like we are worried about something that would happen less frequently i.e engine out vs. stall. I mean we are worried about an engine out near an airport.
Please correct me if i'm wrong.

Base/Final stalls are because people will pitch up in an attempt to slow down or make a tighter turn. You need to nose down on base/final turn. It can seem counterintuitive of course, because you’re close to the ground but that’s the way to do it.

Base/Final stalls are because people will pitch up in an attempt to slow down or make a tighter turn. You need to nose down on base/final turn. It can seem counterintuitive of course, because you’re close to the ground but that’s the way to do it.
Base to final stalls happen when pilots skid the airplane to tighten the turn without banking more, and because they hold the nose up to stretch the glide, maybe. Just the skid adds drag that will slow the airplane.

This is basic level/climbing/descending turn stuff, taught very early in the PPL syllabus. The key is managing speed and avoiding skids. The best thing is to find an instructor who is well-versed in the various spin entries and learn from him/her. Once the student see what can happen in certain situations, he avoids those situations. Abruptly spinning out of a skidding descending turn at altitude will cure him of ever skidding in the pattern.

Base/Final stalls are because people will pitch up in an attempt to slow down or make a tighter turn. You need to nose down on base/final turn. It can seem counterintuitive of course, because you’re close to the ground but that’s the way to do it.
Yeah I understand why these things happen but my question is if they are they less likely to happen with wider patterns.

Yeah I understand why these things happen but my question is if they are they less likely to happen with wider patterns.
You can fly a B-52 pattern and minimize the risk of stall turning base to final, but increase other risk issues.

The proper way to address pattern size is to fly an APPROPRIATE pattern size.

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There is a happy medium between too tight and too wide. The base to final stall is the result of misjudging the turn, and either flying too tight a pattern, turning final too late, or getting blown by a tailwind on base through final and overcorrecting, or all of the above.

Yeah I understand why these things happen but my question is if they are they less likely to happen with wider patterns.
No.

Maybe if we only did straight-ins there would be no base to final accidents.

So I have been wondering if stalls from base to final are more likely if the downwind lag is closer to the airport? The pilot makes the turn to base and then has to turn final when closer to the approach end therefore over/undershooting the approach. So my question is based on this assumption,if this is one of the leading causes of crashes wouldn't it make more sense to teach wider patterns? Of course people are going to say to stay close to the airport in case of an engine out but it seems like we are worried about something that would happen less frequently i.e engine out vs. stall. I mean we are worried about an engine out near an airport.
Please correct me if i'm wrong.
I have seen 3 failed engine outs from the pattern at our airport, Plane came up less then 1000 feet short in all 3 cases.
I seen zero stall spin accidents from the pattern.

Brian

Stalls are often caused by turns that aren't flown properly. This can happen in a tight turn that is closer to the runaway, or a shadow then that starts further out. A properly flown turn won't result in a stall in either case. There are probably more people that find it difficult to fly a tight turn safely than to fly a shallow turn safely. It isn't the turn that is the problem, it is the pilot.

Stalls occur for different reasons and in different situations. Most of my flying has been done to a controlled strip that has a very limited pattern area. Never a problem. Make deliberate turns and square your approach. If you overshoot you have plenty of time to correct it or go around if uncomfortable. When wind is crossing always fly the base leg into the wind.

From Stick and Rudder:

Here is a good explanation for the topic:

No, it's not a good explanation, because it's not a myth. Stall speed will increase during descending turns too.

The idea that stall speed increases with bank angle only in level flight is actually the real myth.

The main reason it happens is because of proximity and visual fixation on the ground (the runway you're aiming for) these conditions make it very easy to get uncoordinated which is a prerequisite requirement for a spin. The base to final stall/spin isn't really a common thing it's just that when it does happen you most likely make it into the news headlines that day,

Base/Final stalls are because people will pitch up in an attempt to slow down or make a tighter turn. You need to nose down on base/final turn. ...
True. Also, don't have lazy feet. Use the rudder properly and always maintain coordination. Lazy feet is all too common with nosedragger pilots. Especially those who don't know what coordination feels like, so they follow the ball, which has a response lag so they're always behind the airplane, with their eyes down in the panel instead of out the windshield.

If you shoot through final, it’s best to just power up and go around for another circuit. If you are trying to tighten up and get back on final, thats where these stalls sneak up on you.

Unload the elevator slightly and keep the ball in the center

Getting slow is also an issue IMO, there's a lot to keep track of, it should be automatic, but sometimes it isn't. Stabilized approaches help a lot.

So I have been wondering if stalls from base to final are more likely if the downwind lag is closer to the airport? The pilot makes the turn to base and then has to turn final when closer to the approach end therefore over/undershooting the approach. So my question is based on this assumption,if this is one of the leading causes of crashes wouldn't it make more sense to teach wider patterns? Of course people are going to say to stay close to the airport in case of an engine out but it seems like we are worried about something that would happen less frequently i.e engine out vs. stall. I mean we are worried about an engine out near an airport.
Please correct me if i'm wrong.
Yes, tighter downwind increases the risk of a stall, since you have to make sharper turns.

don't have lazy feet. Use the rudder properly and always maintain coordination.
Yep ... keep it coordinated and maintain airspeed. Getting slow when coordinated means a stall that may be recoverable (if you can look at the earth filling the windshield and push the stick forward i.e. unload the wing) but if you mishandle speed and coordination (skidding) you may lose the airplane and your life. Larger patterns are not the answer ... better pilot skills are. Sometimes I like to get close and tuck it in tight for a landing. Could be needed the day the engine quits before the flight is over ...

Tight turns, close patterns, overshooting final, and the like don't cause stalls. Exceeding the critical angle of attack causes stalls. So don't do that.

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Just watch your airspeed, that's really all there is to it.

Feh
The Navy long ago figured out that big patterns lead to poor results. The standard carrier pattern is actually quite tight and a continuous turn from downwind to final. Final is planned for about 18 seconds. Speed is often in the 1.2 times stall speed range vice the GA 1.3 Times stall. Stall spin accidents are virtually unheard of despite the slow approach speeds. AOA probably contributes to that. Big patterns simply provide more time to screw things up and makes recognizing errors more difficult.

Two things can be true at once:

1) It’s best to plan so as to avoid excessive bank in the pattern, and,

2) Setting a (relatively) arbitrary maximum bank angle in the pattern sets a student up for disaster.

For instance, if a student has been told “No more than 30° bank in the pattern“, if and when there’s a need for a bit more there will be a strong subconscious psychological motivation to “help” the turn along with rudder, rather than just cranking in the needed bank. THAT’S where the dragons lie, not in using 35° of bank, let’s say, in a turn to final.

As an aside, some have intimated that keeping the ball in the center is essential (true) and also relatively easy to do (not so true). After all these years I count myself as a decent stick, and have kept myself out of trouble over the decades and countless patterns flown. But playing back a video I made of a pattern into my then home field, I was surprised to see this, captured in a screen shot:

Point is, when focusing on something else it’s all to easy to not even realize you’ve nudged your plane into a skid. Admittedly, my Sky Arrow has a light rudder and my inclinometer ball is quite sensitive, but if it can happen to me…

No, it's not a good explanation, because it's not a myth. Stall speed will increase during descending turns too.

The idea that stall speed increases with bank angle only in level flight is actually the real myth.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was scratching my head over his video. In a descending turn, all forces can be in balance just as in a level turn. If you listen carefully, he did say "let the nose fall" as you turn, which in my mind means an increasing rate of descent (an acceleration) which will vary the load factor.

Don't fly a squared off downwind to base to final pattern. Stay close to the runway and fly a low bank arc from downwind to final. Make your base to final radio call halfway through the turn.

Don't fly a squared off downwind to base to final pattern. Stay close to the runway and fly a low bank arc from downwind to final. Make your base to final radio call halfway through the turn.
I’ve tried that. It may be the Law of Primacy, but I personally don’t like it. In a low wing plane, the raised right wing makes you blind to traffic on final for longer than I’d like. Then again, my habit is a close pattern where my base leg might only be for 5 seconds or so, but I like that pause in the turn to deploy landing flaps and one last check for traffic on final.

But That’s Just Me - You do you!

This is NOT a criticism, just an observation.
I almost NEVER fly a coordinated turn in a pattern.
I have no flaps, in an airplane with no starter, so no escape if the engine stops.
I stay high, fly a "carrier" approach, with no squarish corners, in a constant, sometimes hard slip to get rid of altitude and I control the speed with the elevator.
At the last moment I apply a little power (short wings), stop the slip and flare.
It's worked for me for a long time.
True. Also, don't have lazy feet. Use the rudder properly and always maintain coordination. Lazy feet is all too common with nosedragger pilots. Especially those who don't know what coordination feels like, so they follow the ball, which has a response lag so they're always behind the airplane, with their eyes down in the panel instead of out the windshield.

Don't fly a squared off downwind to base to final pattern. Stay close to the runway and fly a low bank arc from downwind to final. Make your base to final radio call halfway through the turn.
It doesn't really matter how the pattern is flown. If the flying is sloppy, it'll bite regardless.

No, it's not a good explanation, because it's not a myth. Stall speed will increase during descending turns too.

The idea that stall speed increases with bank angle only in level flight is actually the real myth.

I agree that a constant descent-rate is no different than level flight in terms of load factor and stall speeds. However, the main message on that video is not to pull back on the yoke during the turn. If you let the nose fall and let the airspeed build, then you are less likely to stall. In other words, it is the increase in airspeed and not the suggested reduction in stall speed that is providing the extra safety. Sometimes people have the right concepts but have less precise explanations.

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This is NOT a criticism, just an observation.
I almost NEVER fly a coordinated turn in a pattern.
I have no flaps, in an airplane with no starter, so no escape if the engine stops.
I stay high, fly a "carrier" approach, with no squarish corners, in a constant, sometimes hard slip to get rid of altitude and I control the speed with the elevator.
At the last moment I apply a little power (short wings), stop the slip and flare. ...
Slips are fine, and a required maneuver for PP-SEL. Not only slips on final, but you can also slip all the way through the downwind to final turn. What kills pilots is skids, not slips.

My base to final turn is a solid 15 mph above stall speed. Stepping on a rudder is the only conceivable way I can imagine inducing a stall, and an uncoordinated stall may be unrecoverable at pattern altitude. To the question about bigger patterns being safer? Not normally. Better piloting is safer. Go practice slow flight and MCA and include 30° turns. You’d have to really screw the pooch to not have the skills to prevent an approach stall.

Just watch your airspeed, that's really all there is to it.
I rather watch the ball and feel the load factor, than trusting IAS to prevent a stall.

Slips are fine, and a required maneuver for PP-SEL. Not only slips on final, but you can also slip all the way through the downwind to final turn. What kills pilots is skids, not slips.
I like the way Joe explains them:

Joe's explanation is good, but at 7:10 he's a bit misleading. You can enter a spin either way: inside/under (skid) or outside/over (slip). But the skid is more dangerous because your inside/low wing stalls first, which makes the airplane spin more quickly with less warning, and away from wings level. Slipping into a spin is harder to do, the airplane resists it more, and the airplane's initial action is the outside/high wing stalls first, which causes a bank toward and through wings level, which makes it easier to detect and recover.

Until the high wing tucks under and you’re inverted in a dive. Wayne Handley’s old video is my fav demo of uncoordinated stalls.

I’ve tried that. It may be the Law of Primacy, but I personally don’t like it. In a low wing plane, the raised right wing makes you blind to traffic on final for longer than I’d like. Then again, my habit is a close pattern where my base leg might only be for 5 seconds or so, but I like that pause in the turn to deploy landing flaps and one last check for traffic on final.

But That’s Just Me - You do you!

You can always roll wings level for a quick look.

And, in a bank, you are more visible to aircraft on a straight in or long final.

My base to final turn is a solid 15 mph above stall speed. Stepping on a rudder is the only conceivable way I can imagine inducing a stall, and an uncoordinated stall may be unrecoverable at pattern altitude. To the question about bigger patterns being safer? Not normally. Better piloting is safer. Go practice slow flight and MCA and include 30° turns. You’d have to really screw the pooch to not have the skills to prevent an approach stall.

Do you mean your wings level stall speed? What is your 45 degree bank angle stall speed? And how far above IT are you?

The stall comes from a tighter than normal turn (higher bank angle). The spin comes from the misuse of the rudder.

You can stall in a 60 degree banked turn with little chance of a spin IF you are in coordinated flight.