There’s a fair amount of concern not only among student pilots, but all ranks of pilots about avoiding stalls during flight. But as the headline points out, the airplane does stall on every flight, it must. For those who are new to aviation, an airplane stall is not the engine quitting… it is the wing no longer producing enough lift to support the weight of the airplane because it has exceeded the Critical Angle of Attack.
Stalls sound like a bad thing in pretty much every context. But what if we found a place in the flight environment where it was good, in fact, needed? During our private training we went up with the flight instructor and practiced stalls. Maybe the first couple felt like we were falling out of the sky. Maybe we felt a little roller coaster feeling in our stomachs and that made us uncomfortable.
Little did we know at the time we were learning multiple crucial skills. Most importantly how to recognize, avoid, and recover from a stall. But secretly how to execute a very important procedure that happens on every flight, because remember… “airplanes stall on every flight”. Let’s think about the procedures for the Power Off stall: Power idle, flaps full, try to hold altitude by pulling back on the yoke. Does this seem familiar? Can we think of a time when we have done this on every flight? *whispers* “Airplanes stall on every flight”
How about… landing. Abeam touchpoint point, power idle, flaps down, turn base… final… over the runway… start pulling back (Round out), hold altitude about 2 inches above runway by pulling back on yoke/stick (Flare). *STALL HORN* Wheels touch! If the airplane stalls from 2 inches, it’s going to roll very gently on to the runway. Passengers will be impressed, other pilots will cheer, maybe they’ll even buy the first round of beers! And all because you harnessed the truths that not only does the airplane stall on every flight, but that it’s up to the pilot to make that stall happen at a very specific time, mainly 2 inches above the runway… on centerline preferably, but that’s a topic for another time.
Meanwhile, here’s a video with a brief introduction to stalls.