I have to say I was surprised when the CFI said his immediate reaction was to reach for the chute.
Unintentional spin...in a Cirrus
I’m a CFI-I who instructs in a SR20 full-time. I have a challenging
low-time Private Pilot student who is rough and impulsive on the controls.
In stalls, when a wing drops even slightly, he has a tendency to correct by
applying full opposite *aileron*, rather than leaving the ailerons neutral
and applying opposite rudder. Thus, the airplane becomes immediately (and very)
We had been practicing power-off stalls, and my student was continuing to
apply cross-coordinated applications in an attempt to correct for a slight
wing drop. After I “re-focused” his learning and got him to simply push the
nose over and add a bit of power to recover, he seemed to realize that, as
long as the ball remained centered and the ailerons remained neutral, stalls
(and recovery) were non-events.
Onto power-on stall practice.
On our first power-on stall, I kept my hand firmly on the stick to keep him
from applying any sort of “aileron correction”. Nonetheless, with a very
slight wing drop, he applied full opposing aileron (beyond my ability to
stop it). The airplane rolled into the dropped wing, and then quickly to
the opposite side. And then it went into a spin.
In a millisecond and without thought, my left hand ripped off the CAPS
placard and grabbed the CAPS handle. As I was about to pull the handle, a
thought entered my mind: “WAIT! You are at 5500 AGL with power on. Before
you pull the CAPS, you need to cut the power!”
In the next half-second, my hand reached down to retard the power lever, I
instinctually applied full opposite rudder (I somehow knew we were spinning
left because my student was “below” me to the left), and I pushed hard on
the stick. Again, there seemed to be barely any thought involved; only
instinct based upon training.
As quickly as we had entered the spin, we were recovering. The entire event
took maybe four to six seconds. I believe we made two full turns in the
After the event, I made the decision to immediately continue to practice
power-on stalls with that student – right then. We spun, we recovered, and
45 seconds later we did another power-on stall.
1. Instinct-based-on-good-training works
2. Stall practice is invaluable
3. Spin training is even more invaluable
4. CAPS is a lifesaver, but if you have the altitude, at least TRY
to recover from a spin in a Cirrus. It might work.