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Should All Pilots Be Required To Complete Spin Training?

If you were put into a spin right now, how would you react? Most pilots have never been given in-flight spin recovery training.


Spin Training Is Rarely Required

Of all pilot certificates issued in the United States, only an initial CFI certificate requires spin training. Because of this, unless flying aerobatic aircraft or holding a CFI certificate, hundreds pilots have never performed a spin. A fear of spins might be a result of a perceived loss-of-control, or that a pilot simply has never recovered from one.

Per FAR 61.183, pilots applying for a CFI certificate must receive...

"A logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor indicating that the applicant is competent and possesses instructional proficiency in stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery procedures after providing the applicant with flight training in those training areas in an airplane or glider, as appropriate, that is certificated for spins."

This endorsement may fulfill the requirement for examination of these topics on a CFI practical test. Only in the event that a retest is a result of "deficiencies in the ability of an applicant to demonstrate knowledge or skill of stall awareness, spin entry, spins, or spin recovery instructional procedures," must the examiner test the applicant in an airplane/glider certificated for spins.

If you've never completed a spin recovery training flight, find a CFI and an airplane certificated for the training. Witnessing the different stages of a spin, followed by performing a recovery, is one of the most educational flight experiences you can have. Many believe this training should required for any pilot certificate.

Spin training can be used is to simulate real-world risk areas. Distractions, cross controlled stalls, accelerated stalls, and incorrect stall recoveries are great lead-in moments for spin instruction. Ask your CFI to demonstrate a cross controlled stall resulting in a spin. It'll make you think twice about ever correcting with rudder after overshooting the runway from a base to final turn!

What Exactly Is A Spin?

Before we jump into the spin recovery steps, let's take a quick look at what's happening in a spin. The FAA defines a spin as "an aggravated stall that results in an airplane descending in a helical, or corkscrew path."

Which brings us to spin point number one: both wings are stalled in a spin, but one is more deeply stalled than the other. The "more stalled" wing is on the inside of the spin, it flies at a higher angle-of-attack, and it generates less lift than the outside wing.

Since your high wing generates more lift than the low wing, it rolls your aircraft into the spin.

And at the same time, your low wing produces more drag, because it's at a higher angle-of-attack. And that drag causes your plane to yaw into the spin. When you combine both forces, you wind up in a fully-developed spin.

How You Can Recover With "PARE"

Spin recovery is pretty simple: break the stall on both your wings. When you do, your plane with fly itself out of the spin. And that's where the "PARE" acronym comes into play.

Step 1) P: Power To Idle

The first step in spin recovery is reducing your throttle to idle. But why would you take power out when you're already stalled?

In a normal stall, you add power to recover, but it a spin, adding power makes recovering more difficult. And it has everything to do with your aircraft's tail.

When you're at a high power setting, airflow from your propeller strike your horizontal stabilizer, causing a tail-down force and pitching your nose up. On top of that, if your center of thrust is lower than your center of gravity, it creates torque that pitches your nose up even further.

When you take the power out, you eliminate both of these factors, making it easier to get the nose down and fly out of the spin.

Step 2) A: Ailerons Neutral

When you bring your ailerons to neutral, you help your wings reach the same angle-of-attack, which helps you reduce the rolling and yawing moments in the spin.

If you try to raise your inside wing using ailerons, you'll actually make the spin worse, because you increase the angle-of-attack of the inner wing. And what about rolling your ailerons into the spin? That's not a good idea either, because as you start to recover, your outside wing is at a higher angle-of-attack, and you can inadvertently start spinning in the opposite direction during recovery.

Step 3) R: Rudder Opposite Spin

The next step is one of the most important ones: rudder. If you're spinning to the left, you add right rudder. And if you're spinning right? Add left rudder. When you add opposite rudder, you stop the rolling and yawing moment of the spin.

Step 4) E: Elevator Forward

And for the last step...breaking the stall. Once you have your plane configured to fly out of the spin (steps 1-3), it's time to reduce your angle-of-attack and keep on flying.

By quickly moving the control yoke forward, you get yourself back under the critical angle-of-attack, and you un-stall your wings. One of the hardest parts of this step is that you feel like you're going almost straight down in a spin, and it doesn't feel natural to push forward on the yoke. But it's the best (and only) way to break your stall quickly and get back to straight-and-level flight.

Finish Your Spin Recovery

Once you've completed these 4 steps, your plane will fly itself out of the spin. When it does, bring your rudder to neutral, and raise the nose, and slowly add power to get as you get back to level flight.

Most training aircraft exit a spin very quickly, but you should always use your aircraft's POH, and remember, have your spin recovery checklist memorized. After all, it's pretty hard to read a checklist during a spin.

Swayne Martin

What Do You Think?

Should all pilots be required to complete some form of spin training? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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