The turn back to the field... engine out

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by 1000RR, Sep 14, 2021.

  1. k9medic

    k9medic Line Up and Wait

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  2. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I guess I could have stated that too, but I suspect the discussion above would have been the same regardless. Although I have taken some things away from the discussion - it's been good reading for sure. In our situation, the 700'/800' turn backs were with a left crosswind at about 3kt (10kt headwind), runway length of 4000', DA was a little shy of 1500'. Humidity was summer time Florida :eek:.
     
  3. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    We always have this turn back debate as if all GA aircraft are created equal.

    I’ve done glider training and anything above 200 ft is a turn back (easily). My Velocity has an excellent glide ratio and anything above 500 ft is a turn back. My Glasair has high wing loading and a poor glide ratio and anything above 800 ft is a turn back. Even then, the environmental conditions and runway length can modify all those situations.

    It’s completely subjective depending on what aircraft you’re flying. Stop trying to make a one size fits all to turn backs.
     
  4. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    Fair enough. Let's be clear that we're talking about light piston aircraft with a glide ratio <= 15:1: so every Cessna, Piper, Mooney, Cirrus, Beechcraft, etc, but not gliders, blimps, balloons, helicopters, or powered parachutes.

    With those exceptions, don't turn back at low altitude unless you face certain death landing ahead.
     
  5. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Exactly. When I had my engine failure at 600' or so there was no place straight ahead. I could make a turn to the airport access road so I did that but then decided that I could make at least the taxiway if not the runway and ended up on the runway.

    You won't stall and spin if you don't exceed the critical angle. The problem is that people panic and exceed that trying to get back. The key is to practice these performance manouvers regularly. There's been papers written about this.
     
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  6. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    But even in those typical GA aircraft the glide ratio could be around 8:1 or it could be around 13:1. Then, what are the winds? Weight of the aircraft? Runway length? Windmilling prop vs stationary? Climb out in fpm (inertia)? DA? Then modify all that with good or bad pilot technique (AoB) and you get huge differences of what is too low and what is a safe margin. Too many variables for a one size fits all approach.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
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  7. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    You have a lot of confidence in the pilot's ability to calmly assess multiple complex, interdependent variables after an unexpected engine failure at a few hundred feet AGL, with adrenaline causing the body to direct blood+oxygen away from the brain to muscles. You have to keep it simple in a real-life emergency:
    1. Do you face almost-certain death or severe disability if you try to land straight ahead (±45°)? If yes, then initiate a gentle turn back and silently pray; otherwise
    2. Are you above the conservative altitude limit you chose long ago, before you were befuddled in the middle of an emergency (e.g. 1,000 ft AGL)? If yes, then take a slow breath and try to evaluate the situation; otherwise
    3. Just land your plane in the least-bad spot ahead of you — you need only a few dozen feet of deceleration distance to survive at light-piston landing/stall speeds.
    If you keep the plane under control all the way to the ground, you'll probably walk (or at least, limp) away.
     
  8. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I'm not sure if it's a good idea to practice the turn back. But I'm positive that before anyone is exposed to that, they should already be familiar with a simulated engine out and landing straight ahead, and also simulated engine out in the pattern. Both of those should be done, in my view, as part of primary training, and as long as you have enough runway for the former, they're perfectly safe. Going from climb out to simulated engine out and landing on the remaining runway is an eye-opening experience, and it's a skill every pilot should have. Turn back or not, you need to get the nose down and keep the aircraft flying if that situation happens non-simulated.
     
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  9. RyanShort1

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    Uh... practice, and plenty of it is how you develop the ability to think clearly, instead of panicking. You probably never practiced pulling someone from a burning car, while a firefighter would be able to much more objectively attack the situation.

    The more you've practiced something, the more you are able to objectively evaluate the best reaction to what is less of an emergency. Kinda like Sully's glider flying made him a tad better at making a choice on where to take his airliner.

    You could also include this information in your takeoff briefing. If you know the terrain is good, commit before takeoff to flying straight ahead, but if you know that there are miles of trees ahead, brief it. Example, the wind is from the right, there are no obstacles to the right, we know that there are miles of trees in front of us. If we are below X altitude with an engine failure, we are flying straight ahead within a 30 degree arc towards the softest looking landing - if over X altitude we are turning right (or left) into the wind, airspeed (75 for plane X) and a 45 degree bank.

    I was also taught from day 1 to run an ABCFAST checklist, which helps in most single engine emergencies, even if you can't fumble to your checklist.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  10. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    How do you adjust X altitude for actual headwind component, density altitude, runway length, and distance from the runway when the engine quits?
     
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  11. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    Having survived an engine out at 300 feet I could not agree more. Did I land straight ahead, no, did it happen so fast there was zero time to think, yes. Your training kicks in and as my bride says you do that pilot stuff. Keep it simple, pick a spot, point the nose there and go, no time to second guess, its best to have had a plan. If you waste precious time thinking it over you will most likely have an eternity to ponder that from the next life.

    I Thank God, and my instructors, who saturated me with what if scenarios during my flight
    training. That is the reason we are both here today, and maybe some luck.
     
  12. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    Congrats on the safe outcome.

    When you say you didn't land straight ahead, do you mean that you turned back to the runway, or just that you picked the best spot ±45° from your current heading and pointed the nose there?
     
  13. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Correct the point is, this scenario had been briefed before she ever got into the glider. It had already been decided that anything below 200ft was going to be land straight ahead. Every takeoff she was already looking ahead at where she would land it if she had a rope break (glider version of a power failure), When it did happen she had practiced it so many times in her head that the outcome was inevitable. Sitting in a field waiting for someone to come get them.

    CFI Friend of mine recently had a similar event. Power failure while practicing stalls in a C-172. As soon as he realized the engine wasn't going to restart, he executed the plan exactly like I both he and I have demonstrated and practiced hundreds of times, while teaching, only this time instead of terminating the scenario at 500ft on final they landed in a field. if it had not rained excessively the night before it would have been a no damage incident, unfortunately the field was softer than it probably would have been the other 345 days of the year causing the nose wheel to dig in. Despite some damage to the plane, they still ended up parked in the field calling for someone to come get them.


    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
  14. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    I agree with everything you wrote, but I will add that KISS is critical for emergency training — no matter how much you practice in advance, you want to limit the amount of critical thinking and ambiguity in an emergency. That's why many people suggest a fairly high cut-off for considering turning back (e.g. 1,000 ft AGL). That's easy to remember and doesn't require a lot of thinking in the middle of the emergency.

    Might you succeed at turning back from 600.ft AGL or even 400 ft AGL? Sure, it's possible. Will you be competent to make a razor's-edge decision like that in an emergency? I doubt it. And that's one reason I'd suggest against training low-level turn-backs, just like you don't train IFR students to descend below minima under the hood — what you practice is very likely what you'll do.
     
  15. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    Fully agree. Whatever other nuances we're discussing here in our friendly debate, the automatic reflex to push the nose down as soon as the controls get mushy (even, or especially, close to the ground) is 95% of surviving.
     
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  16. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    How do you know when you’ve had plenty of practice? I see ATPs who practice lots of V1 cuts, pass checkrides, but can’t do a V1 cut to save their lives 6 months later. And a V1 cut is quite a bit simpler than a turn back.

    These are perishable skills, and need to be treated as such. Most pilots aren’t going to get frequent enough training to maintain any sort of proficiency.
     
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  17. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Well not all pilots react to stress the same and as I stated above, not all GA aircraft are in a position to turn back.

    There are a lot of pilots who don’t truly know the performance limits of the aircraft they’re flying. There are pilots who don’t seem to understand the relationship of AoB and stall speed either. For them, by all means, play it safe and go straight ahead.

    But, there are aircraft and pilots that under certain conditions can perform a turn back safely. Know your aircraft and the conditions that exist for that given day.

    https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2011/may/19/impossible-turn-practice-makes-possible
     
  18. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    This is exactly what I’m talking about. Glad they made a video showing the differences with typical GA aircraft. There are those that can do it safely during the right conditions and others that can’t.
     
  19. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    You don't know how well you're reacting to stress, but the odds are that you've lost a big chunk of your ability, you're fixating instead of task switching, and worst of all, you don't even realise it. That's why so many good, experienced pilots die in the stupidest ways. You're not the same pilot in a crisis that you were on a nice day, calmly practicing a simulated emergency that you already knew was coming.
     
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  20. Skyrys62

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    One of the main reasons our scenario was not good...no prior instruction or warning. We had never practiced or even talked about engine outs on takeoff at this point.
    He was a fresh grad, new to the flight school, age 22, and I was his first 'start to finish' student...and I'm telling you, he put us in a somewhat dangerous situation unintentionally. As I said, he apologized. He knew.
    We were practicing short field take offs, and climbing out at 60, per the procedure, so 4 things contributing at once. Slow speed, loss of power, pulling back on yoke (as instructed) and sink from taking out flaps.
    It took about 1/2 second before we both comprehended that it was not a good situation. He said "whoa!" and pushed yoke forward. It caught him off guard how quickly we sank. I swear it felt like we were falling tail first.

    We did practice engine outs on takeoff again...several of them. I always pushed the nose over, and left the throttle alone, as now instructed. But he never pulled it again while I was taking out flaps.
    It might be something good to practice, (pulling throttle while raising flaps) but not as a total surprise for the first time to a student with no instruction at 400agl, in my opinion.

    CFI's are human too, and make mistakes. I never got angry with him or held a grudge. I thanked him for his reaction, and he thanked me for mine, and we discussed it fully. Even laughed about it from time to time later on as I warned other students to smack his hand if he moved it toward the throttle.
    The only thing I ever faulted him for, was he never taught me about incipient spin/stall. I learned about that on my own not long before my check ride, and felt it was important to a
    new student. (I didn't become a learner until recently)
    He was off to the airlines about 18 months later. I hope to get on a flight with him sometime. Maybe he'll let me up in the cockpit and I'll pull the power on his ass one time. ;)



    apologies to OP if this is too far off topic
     
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  21. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks Skyrys62 for the additional details.
    I once did a very similar scenario for a private pilot applicant I was prepping for a checkride. For some reason he and/or his instructor had decided that every takeoff should be a short field take-off. I had some serious concerns about this and as a result we did a few power failure scenarios below 200ft. We had adequate runway remaining. I had a pretty good idea what was going to happen. At a Vx climb in a 152 if the engine quits below about 100ft I think it is unlikely you are going to land it without damaging the airplane. The Airspeed just decays so quickly that unless you slam the nose down immediately (like negative G) it is unlikely you will have enough energy to slow your descent back to the runway enough to prevent damaging the airplane. In nearly every scenario of a power failure at Vx below 100ft power had to be added to slow the descent for an acceptable arrival to the runway.
    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
  22. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    All pilots don’t react to stress the same though. Just like all pilots don’t have the same knowledge of aircraft performance either.

    I used to instruct in the Army and it was amazing to see how some pilots react to simulated EPs compared to others. Example, I did thousands of simulated engine failures in Black Hawks. Some would panic, pull collective and droop the rotor. Some don’t understand aircraft performance / aerodynamics and would try and land to a 10,000 ft peak on one engine. Seen some freeze up in bad weather. Having said all that, I had plenty of students / copilots that were completely at ease under pressure and had a thorough understanding of aircraft performance. Just like GA, you have weak pilots and strong pilots.

    So, I’m not gonna lump all pilots into one category that they’ll automatically panic and botch it up. There are many instances of pilots who have reacted calmly during an engine out.
     
  23. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Unfortunately most of these discussions are a one-size-fits-all that revolves around the airplane’s capabilities rather than the pilot’s.
     
  24. David Megginson

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    And we know from our own postings in PoA that 95% of pilots are above average. ;)
     
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  25. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    And that goes back to the AOPA vid. The turn back decision depends on several factors, type aircraft probably being the most important.
     
  26. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There is no relationship between angle of bank and stall speed unless you assume a constant rate of decent or maintaining level flight. Stall is a function of AOA which is a function of G loading.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
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  27. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    No way would I allow a CFI to pull power at low altitude and low airspeed. No way in hell. Too easy for a simulated emergency to turn into a real one.
     
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  28. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    That’s what I am assuming. The relationship of the increase in load factor due to AoB and the increase in stall speed associated with it.

    https://turbineair.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Bank-Angle-vs-stall-speed-2013.pdf
     
  29. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    Wise choice.

    It's like when the FAA realised more pilots were dying from VMC rollover when the instructor shut down one engine during training than were dying during an actual engine failure, or when Transport Canada realised more pilots were dying during (then-mandated) PPL spin-recovery training than were dying in accidental spins that were high enough to recover from (almost all real stall-spin accidents happen close to the ground, not at 3,000 ft AGL).

    There's no reason to go looking for trouble during training — it already knows where to find you when it's your turn.
     
  30. flyingron

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    If you're old enough, you remember when spin training was required for private pilots in the US as well. I'm not that old, however. It was abolished in 1949. In the 1990s they added back additional stall/spin avoidance-awareness items to the training, but not the actual spin. My instructor had me doing spins on my second lesson, but he was a bit inane. My wife's instructor didn't ever even let her get a fully developed stall. I flew with her and let her do a few with me.
     
  31. SkyChaser

    SkyChaser Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do other CFIs warn their students when they practice emergency techniques? Mine never did, and I think that was so useful because it gave me a taste of what it might be like if something actually did happen and how I might react to it.

    As for stalling and spinning, I never spun the plane, but I did practice stall recovery from a full stall, power on and power off. Finding the edges of the envelope in a position that is easily recoverable is good for a student, in my opinion, because it will take them a lot longer to panic if they have already explored whatever situation they may find themselves in and know how to fix it.
     
  32. GMascelli

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    My off airport "landing" was back towards the airport when my plan B of a roadway was busy with traffic to the left or right. I crossed the road and made it to a golf course.

    My abort plan is straight ahead if I have the field beyond the tress in view if not roadway left or right (winds), then golf course. It was a quick progression through my reads without delay. Engine out to ending up on the ground was 17 seconds. It was 34 seconds from takeoff roll to engine out.
     
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  33. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    In Canada, spins were still on the PPL flight test until the late 1990s, IIRC (which may explain why Piper PA-28s are still rare at flight schools in Canada — the later ones with the semi-tapered wings, like my PA-28-161, aren't certified for intentional spins). When I did my PPL in 2002, spins had just been removed.
     
  34. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    This thread reminds me of the thread about removing the requirement to teach autorotations. If you have a CFI that can’t teach an auto to power recovery safely, they shouldn’t be teaching. If you have a CFI that can’t teach a turn back in an airplane safely, they shouldn’t be teaching.

    Both maneuvers demonstrate operating the aircraft at the edge of its envelope. Both maneuvers could save a life one day as well. To not teach that understanding of aircraft performance, is doing a disservice to that student.
     
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  35. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    In theory, you're right, but in practice, the actual stats showed that using some of those maneuvers as teaching tools was killing more students than it was saving.
     
  36. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Maybe teaching spins but that’s not what I’m referring to. What stats show that teaching autos to students has killed more students than those that haven’t been taught? FT Rucker has taught millions of autos to the ground without a single fatality in the last 30 years. How many fatalities have occurred in teaching a turn back vs other PTS maneuvers?
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
  37. Albany Tom

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    My primary instructor did the first time, but never after that. This was in a cub, where engine outs are probably more common than other aircraft simply because of carb icing. We practiced it over, and over, randomly. Once, unannounced, was on climb out on a 4000' grass strip, at about 200'. It was terrifying, but uneventful. Came to a full stop landing in front.

    One thing I don't understand is practice engine outs, over an airport, where they cut if off at 500' or so. A friend's instructor did that. Mine were always to a full stop landing. In my view, similar to the helicopter autorotate above, if you can't do a simulated power off landing to a stop, while circling over the airport, you're not ready to solo yet. In an actual emergency, if you have the altitude, it's really nice to know that you can actually pick a spot and put it there.
     
  38. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And probably more important than that, the pilot’s skill and recency of practice.
     
  39. RyanShort1

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    I'm curious how you came to be such an authority on these subjects? Are you a CFI? I mean, I can offer my opinion, but at the end of the day, I'd be hesitant to make some of the statements you're making in this thread.
     
  40. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Not so speak for somebody else, but David is probably referring to spins. That's gone full circle, in my opinion.

    The history, as I remember/understand it, was that in WW1 the British were losing more pilots to accidental spins than they were combat, by a significant margin. Either no one knew how to recover from them, or some knew but it wasn't being taught. So I think it was actually the Canadians, I believe before the US was in the war, that started teaching spin recovery as part of primary training before sending the guys to England to go off to fight. The number of hours those guys had before going into combat was, again if I remember it correctly, very low. Anyway, turns out that teaching combat biplane pilots how to recover from spins greatly reduced the accident rate overall. Go figure.

    Fast forward 50 years or so, and somebody behind a desk in Washington or Alberta or something reads about all the accidents that are happening during civilian flight training during spin recovery. Someone does some math, and determines that this is higher than the number of people actually spinning in during regular flight. There is some sort of group discussion, probably weaker than the ones on here, and the conclusion is that "real pilots are smart enough not to spin in the first place". And they drop the spin requirement for primary training.

    The statistics they used COULDN'T have proven that more pilots were killed in spin training than would have been killed if there wasn't any spin training, because all pilots had gone through spin training since roughly 1918 or so. Changing the training requirements didn't change the accident rate in the short term, either, as most pilots flying already had spin training, and I'd bet that many instructors were still teaching it anyway, as there was no mandate that they not.

    Fast forward to now, and loss of control, from the last NALL report, and I'm pretty sure it's TOP of accidents in GA, if you sort through all the statistics breaking things down into different parts of flight. I think the statistics/math around the original decision to drop spin training are wrong.

    Again, I'm not advocating turn back training, and I'm not sure I am spin training, either. But I do think we need to spend more effort in basic flying techniques. I also believe that the new slow flight ACS requirements are wrong...and I'm not the only one in that camp. Better pilots than me think it's a step backwards.
     
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