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An Inadvertent Spin and What I Learned About Flying a Mooney


I originally posted this to the Mooney Mail List back in December, 1996. -- Don Kaye

With all the reading I'd been doing about stall/spin accidents, I decided about 6 months ago that it would be a good idea to have students do a couple during recurrency training (one of my better ideas--sure---). Naturally, they should be practiced to the left to make it more difficult (you know, torque, p-factor, slipstream effect). What I'm about to describe involved M20K's, but is applicable to other models, too.

OK, so we climbed up to 6,000 feet. I had the student configure for the landing configuration, full flaps and gear down. I demo'd it and then let the students do a couple. Gradually increase a skid with increasing left rudder and simultaneously feed in more and more right aileron and back elevator until the stall. With the first 4 students nobody particularly enjoyed them, but they worked out ok. Everyone was so nervous that the instant the airplane started to stall, the yoke was released and power was simultaneously added, coordinated rudder and aileron and recovery was complete. (Your basic Power, Pitch, Bank recovery for nose up stall). However----student number 5 decided that he wanted to really see the "break". He held back pressure, I kid you not, just 1 second too long. My new experience now tells me that Mooneys don't snap like the Cessnas in a cross controlled stall--the wing just casually rolls vertical along with the nose going vertical and you quickly "accelerate" into, you guessed it, a spin. Not only did the spin rate rapidly increase, but the aircraft began to porpoise in the spin. I said, "I've the airplane" and the student quickly lifted his hands off the yoke and said "Be my guest." Since getting my ATP, I've always stressed "smoothness" in flying an airplane. I "smoothly" pushed the nose down, pulled the power, and applied full right rudder. The rotation continued--and continued--and continued. Just as my heart rate was really starting to increase and the sweat was beginning to break out on the "right" side of my face (of course you know that flight instructors never sweat on their left side) and plan B needed to be thought up, the rotation started to slow and stop and I gradually pulled up. The altitude was 5,000 so we were test pilots for only one turn (like we did a 2 turn spin). There were a couple of seconds there when---.

Back on the phone to Mooney, I talked to Joel, one of their test pilots about the slow rate of recovery from the spin, and he gave me an earful! It seems he's had plenty spin recovery practice during certification.

Here's some of the "other" things he said to me which I really took note of:

1. Forget smoothness when it comes to spin recovery! Abrupt full elevator forward right now!

2. Flaps up to prevent stress on the flaps and more importantly to get the air flowing over the rudder more effectively.

3. If recovery isn't effected using the above technique, then use full rudder into the spin followed by full rudder opposite the spin.

4. If that doesn't work, then increase then decrease power a couple of times.

5. If that doesn't work--well, he's never had it go that far.

He said Mooneys are slow to come out of spins, so as the POH's say, "don't get into them."

I've decided not to give cross controlled stall practice routinely anymore. If you're not really current, I recommend not practicing these by yourself, and even if you are don't do them without first taking a good Mooney specific flight instructor along with you for some additional "comfort". MOST IMPORTANTLY! Watch out for the situations where this vicious type of stall can occur.

-- Don Kaye


Revision: 10/28/2010




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