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Thread: Stalls in the Pattern

  1. #1

    Stalls in the Pattern

    This is the NTSB preliminary for the crash of a RANS S-6S earlier this month:

    http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/br...04X50339&key=1

    "...as the accident airplane approached the runway, it entered an aerodynamic stall during the turn from the base leg of the traffic pattern to the final leg of the traffic pattern. The airplane then appeared to recover from the stall and aborted the landing.

    "As the accident airplane approached the runway for a second time, it again appeared to stall during the base-to-final turn. The airplane again recovered from the stall, aborted the landing, and continued in the traffic pattern. During the third traffic pattern circuit, and while turning from the downwind leg to the base leg, the airplane appeared to stall; however, the airplane did not recover and subsequently entered a spin."

    Three approaches, three stalls. Going to be interesting to see the final report on this one.

    Ron Wanttaja

  2. #2
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    *facepalm* Good grief....
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  3. #3

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    failure to obtain/maintain flying speed? (x3)

  4. #4

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    3 stalls--2 on turns from base to final and 1 from downwind to base. Apparently no turning problems from upwind to crosswind or crosswind to downwind where you might believe a stall was more likely to occur(banking/climbing). Mystifying. Perhaps the banks to final were too steep with inattention to airspeed?

  5. #5

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    Might have been a strong tailwind on base. Gives the unwary pilot an allusion of excess speed that he is not accustomed to. ( pilot sees high ground speed and pulls stick to slow down)

  6. #6
    JimRice85's Avatar
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    Damn
    Jim Rice
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  7. #7

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    I wonder why the NTSB said " aerodynamic stall".

    Seems they have used various words over the years:
    failure to maintain airspeed...
    loss of control while maneuvering...

    I sort of felt the government agencies just didn't want to accept that STALLS / SPINS was still killing pilots, so they keep finding other words.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Floatsflyer View Post
    3 stalls--2 on turns from base to final and 1 from downwind to base. Apparently no turning problems from upwind to crosswind or crosswind to downwind where you might believe a stall was more likely to occur(banking/climbing). Mystifying. Perhaps the banks to final were too steep with inattention to airspeed?
    When stalls occur in the pattern, it's usually on the base-to-final turn. It's the only place where the pilot is trying to precisely align with a ground feature. Upwind-to-crosswind, crosswind-to-downwind, you're basically following an invisible track. But turning from base to final, you're converting from the virtual path to a fixed ground reference, and that's usually where the stalls occur.

    Wind conditions can throw off pilots even more. As Bill mentioned, a tailwind on base tends to make pilot suck that base-to-final turn a bit tighter.

    Pilots have by dying from stalls on base-to-final for a hundred years. That's not what bothers me about this one.

    Like many of us, I've made some dumb mistakes flying but managed to live through them. When they have happened, I become a bit paranoid and do everything I can to keep it from happening again.

    For some reason...this pilot didn't.

    Think about it. You accidentally stall on base-to-final. You ram on the throttle, get the wings flying again, pull up and go around.

    On your next approach, are you going to do everything *exactly* like the first one?

    Hey-el no. After you re-cage your heart, you are going to fly a wide-damn pattern. You're going to extend downwind to make sure you have a long final to help you get on centerline. You are going to watch the airspeed like a hawk through the turns.

    But that's not what happened. The pilot apparently flew the same kind of approach, stalled again, went around again, then had what was apparently the same kind of stall on the third try. After the second stall, I would have been well and truly freaked, and flew off somewhere for 15 minutes or so to cool down (and fly a long, long, straight-in approach afterwards). But no, quickly around for a third (and fatal) try.

    There may be some other factors at work here, either mechanical, physiological, or psychological.

    Ron Wanttaja

  9. #9

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    Well, to stir the pot, I will throw out the suggestion that too much of our training is repetition of "politically correct" formulas and emphasis on approved procedures. What I mean by that statement is that I see too many instructors teach, and pilots with many hours insist that there is only one procedure appropriate for a situation when in fact common sense says that is not true.

    In this case what I see is that the pilot had the full length of the runway in front of him and he went around because he had a problem with the turn to final. All he had to do after stabilizing the airplane was get lined up and land. Someone taught that pilot that no matter what, if you have a problem in the pattern, do not land! I see that at at my local 6000' runway airport. A student who could land 3 times in the length of the runway gets some turbulence on final and aborts the landing. I suggest that student is being taught poor judgement.

    An extreme case of this was the KLM crash where the airplane had a fire on board but the captain would not land at the nearest airports because they were not listed in the airline's ops spec (approved airports). For that deceased captain the procedure was more important than saving the airplane and his and his passengers lives. What's up with that?!

    Food for thought.

    Wes
    N78PS

  10. #10
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    I like this discussion and agree with Ron's opinions.

    As a pilot who flys recreationally, I usually fly when the weather is nice. Yesterday, the winds at my local airport were 310 degrees @ 19kts gusting to 26 kts. I fly a small tailwheel airplane (Cessna 140A) At lunch, I went to the airport and flew three circuits to practice crosswind Landings in gusty conditions (runway 27) After a lousy first landing, I flew a wider pattern, lengthened the downwind etc. for more time to adapt on base and final. In each landing I tried something different - three point with flaps, wheeled with flaps, and bounced without flaps. I am hopeful that this practice will make me a safer pilot.

    As for the instant accident, absent a mechanical/design problem, this accident appears related to pilot skill. In either case, I am hopeful we can learn from this accident and remind each of us of the importance of safety and practice.

    Daniel

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