New Training and Checkride Spiral Dive Recovery Standards

Published by: Paul Hamilton on 26th Jul 2017 | View all blogs by Paul Hamilton

Well we finally did it. A great step for triking safety in the future. Thanks to all the discussion and input from Trike Pilots on this important issue. Bacground see:



Just out from the FAA to Designated Pilot Examiners:



There has been an addition of RECOVERY FROM A SPIRAL DIVE as an Emergency Task in both the Sport Pilot and Private Pilot WSC Practical Test Standards as well as the Weight Shift Control Flying Handbook.  Effective immediately this task must be tested in all practical tests for WSC.




The changes have been made and are now posted on the 630 web page.




Link:  Look for the dates of July, 2017, for the PTS changes.




Link:  Look for the change date of July, 2017.






  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 11 months ago
    As long as it increases safety. I sure hope that this new manouver when done by an instructor on their Trikes many times over with many students won't end in a catastrophic failure of the wing or any accidents or death in recovery.

    In the end, I can only hope that the intention behind this was genuinely, pilot safety​.

    I still don't see the benefit to the pilots who fly slow to medium single surface wings. This training should be for pilots who fly extremely fast and in particular poorly designed wings that are known to Spiral easily.

    Oh well, let's wait and see.
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 11 months ago
    Another concern with Spiral dive and recovery is that many students buy used trikes and may NOT know how abused their wings are and doing Spirals and recovery in that trike (either for training or afterwards) might not be safe. I hope you guys considered all of these concerns.
  • Bryan Tuffnell
    by Bryan Tuffnell 11 months ago
    Yikes!!! Rizwan, not picking on you, but your posts show why I think it makes more sense to rate pilots than wings. I don't mean this to be anything other than informative, but can I ask you:

    - Why do you think your trike is immune to spirals?
    - Why do you think spiral recovery overstresses the wing?

    Congratulations to Paul and a big shout out to Larry - well done, guys. The first step in solving a problem is recognising that there is one.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 11 months ago
    Teaching "Recovery" does not mean entering a "Spiral" anymore than teaching Whip Stall Prevention does.
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 11 months ago
    Thanks Doug, that makes sense. :)

    Bryan, you are more than welcome to pick on me, I won't give a hoot.

    I never said that my trike wing is not susceptible to Spirals but I would think that a single surface 15 meter wing is more stable than a nimble 11 meter double surface wing. And the chances of a (poorly) designed 11 meter wing entering a Spiral are higher than a 15 meter single surface wing (this was previously discussed in another thread).

    I am NOT picking on any wing but one industry expert once told me about year and a half ago of a nimble double surface small wing and its susceptibility to enter into Spirals. And I think, it was due to the susceptibility of that wing to Spirals that is how this discussion and online video on Spiral Recovery started.

    As far as over stressing the wing is concerned, this was one of the point that was discussed in that thread as well about pushing the wing to or beyond manufacturer's limits over and over for training purposes, but I think Doug explained it well.

    Also, I think rating trike wings is far more effective than rating pilots. Quiet frankly due to many challenges I don't see either of them happening but if Trike wings are going to be vastly different in performance then maybe they should be rated just like Para-glider wings are. But that is a debate for another day.

    In the end, if this makes Trike flying safer than by all means I am in favor of it.
  • Bryan Tuffnell
    by Bryan Tuffnell 11 months ago
    Rizwan, I wouldn't pick a fight with anyone but write as a friend, someone from the same small community :-) There is no malice here; quite the opposite! The point I wish to make is this:

    - Any wing can be put into a situation where it has bank on, and the pilot has difficulties in rolling level if they just shove the bar sideways. We can give this situation a lot of names, spiral dive being one of them. Some wings are more susceptible than others, but all wings including three axis and rotary, can be put in this situation. It could happen to you or me tomorrow, regardless of what we fly, if circumstances line up. This is a point which has been hammered, repeatedly, on this site - no trike is immune so we all should know what to do.

    - If I was being biffed around by turbulence and shear, I would far rather be flying the nimble 11 metre double surface wing than the 15 metre single surface wing; it would be more controllable and safer in those conditions. Rating wings isn't simple.

    - Some pilots, but not all, know how to recover roll using pitch and throttle. Those that do are safer pilots. So there is more variability in the pilots' abilities to recover than there is protection by the wing type. We can list trike fatalities that have occurred because trike pilots didn't know what to do when confronted with this situation. Therefore I see more value in stating that the pilot can or cannot recover from a spiral than relying on the false promise of better statistical odds provided by wing type.

    - Spirals are safe if not allowed to develop too far, and proper recovery is also safe - hence training.

    I do acknowledge those who've put a great deal of effort into this and I believe training in this can save lives. I write to support them and encourage the rest of us to learn from them.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 11 months ago
    This is kind of like the last US election. The vote is over and we have a new President.

    Regarding spirals, I nearly died in a Cessna 152 doing an intentional spiral with an instructor after I had several solo hours. I thought that increasing power and pulling back on the yoke was the exit. I would have estruggled all the way to the ground tightening the spiral and increasing Gs the whole way down.

    If you don't want to receive COMPLETE training, fly a 103 where ignorance and Darwin effect don't hurt innocent passengers.

    After hanging out with Rob from Airborne all week, I can tell you their company is on board with more complete training as well.

    I know there is a lot of confusion as to how to safely practice spiral and spiral recovery. Simply put; a power off steep banked turn of 45 degrees minimum should be performed. If this sounds dangerous to any trike pilot I suggest more training. This IS normal flying IMO and an attitude most will experience intentionally or unintentionally at some point in their flying career.

    Regarding the Likeliness of an unintentional spiral... that's like not having stall training because your wing won't stall. And then the pilot buys a new wing or his buddy tosses him the keys to his trike and you have an untrained pilot at risk.

    Henry said it all when he said this training saved his life.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 11 months ago
    I should be known that Larry was a major contributor in this new trike training requirement as a manufacturer voice to the FAA. Again, thanks to all.

    It is pretty simple, COMPREHENSIVE PILOT training saves the lives of the pilots and passenger/students in any wing. It is better for the industry and safety.
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 11 months ago
    Larry (and others who may want to chime in);

    During training with you and Wes, including spiral dive recovery training, Wes had me do a power on stall then hit me with "you almost put us in a whipstall". I kind of shook it off but it's time for me to face that one straight on. First, is it good training to induce a full power on stall and second, I have to sheepishly admit I don't really know the recovery for that and need to get that under my knowledge belt.

    I'm about to hit 100 hours......seems like the more I fly, the more I don't know.
  • Jim Davidson
    by Jim Davidson 11 months ago
  • Charles Moore
    by Charles Moore 11 months ago
    Doug's comment is perfect. When he taught me the recovery we didn't enter a spiral dive. The recovery is pretty simple....if you have been taught.
  • Gregg Ludwig
    by Gregg Ludwig 11 months ago
    Tom writes "First, is it good training to induce a full power on stall..."
    I do not recommend the practice of a full power on stall as that can easily develope into a fatal whipstall. No need to practice a stall with the trike in a very steep climb. One good exercise is practice power off stalls as described in the PTS. I have students perform a scenario of a landing stall (at a safe altitude that allows the maneuver to be completed above 1,000') and recover with a minimum loss of altitude. This maneuver requires full power to recover and can be done without pulling the bar in very much if the wings are level.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 11 months ago
    Tom, Keep your wits about yourself...please don't practice power-on stalls in a float trike. The fact you were fortunate enough to experience one already with an Instructor onboard should be proof-positive to avoid (prevent) any further practice just "for fun"!
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 11 months ago
    Yes monty we better send Larry to sensitivity training :-) although I do not think it is you. You are a trike legend of which many would be proud to age.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 11 months ago
    So there is no misunderstanding, the spiral recovery must be demonstrated during the checkride (Practical Test) so taught and tested flying. The Whip stall is oral only. Completely different teaching/testing/checkride procedures.

    See Actual PTS Tasks:

    REFERENCES: FAA-H-8083-3; Aircraft Flight Manual/POH. NOTE: This maneuver must be demonstrated in flight. The maneuver must be initiated at altitudes above 2,500 feet AGL or the manufacturer’s recommended altitude, whichever is higher. Objective. To determine that the applicant:
    1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to spiral dive recovery. 2. Selects an entry altitude that allows the task to be completed no lower than 1,000 feet AGL. 3. Establishes an airspeed that will allow a steep turn without stalling. 4. Rolls into a turn of at least 45 degrees but less than the manufacturer’s bank angle limitations. 5. Reduces the throttle to establish a stabilized descent. 6. Recovers by simultaneously reducing the throttle to idle, pulling in the control bar, and leveling the wings. 7. Controls pitch, airspeed, and G-forces to prevent a stall or exceeding the manufacturer’s maximum airspeed limitation.

    NOTE: The applicant’s knowledge of whipstall and tumble awareness shall be evaluated through oral testing only.
    REFERENCES: AC 61-67; FAA-H-8083-3; Aircraft Flight Manual/POH.
    Objective. To determine that the applicant exhibits knowledge of the elements related to whip stall and tumble awareness by explaining:
    1. Elements related to whip stalls and tumbles. 2. Flight situations where unintentional whip stalls and tumbles may occur. 3. The techniques used to avoid whipstalls and tumbles. 4. The likely results of executing a whip stall or tumble.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 11 months ago
    Here is what has been added to the FAA Weight-Shift Control Flying Handbook:

    Note the word SIMULTANEOUSLY is for the throttle reduction, pull in and level the wing. ALL AT THE SAME TIME FOR THE QUICKEST REVOVERY....

    Weight-Shift Control Aircraft Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-5) Addendum
    The following information should be included in Chapter 13: Abnormal and Emergency Procedures of the Weight-Shift Control Aircraft Flying Handbook on page 13-10 and will be included in the next version of the handbook:
    Recovery from a Steep-banked Spiral Dive At times, weight-shift control pilots find themselves in an unintentional steep-banked descending spiral turn. This may happen while performing an emergency descent but more commonly happens when the pilot spots something on the ground and wants to get a closer look. The pilot initiates a turn which steepens to 45 to 60 degrees of bank or greater. Through turbulence, wind gusts, or inattention the turn may develop into a steep-banked spiraling descent. If the pilot attempts to arrest the descent by pushing out the control bar and increasing pitch, the rate of turn and rate of descent will increase and an accelerated stall may ensue. It may require significant force to level the wing at this point and with some wings it may actually be impossible unless the correct technique is followed. If the maneuver began at low altitude, there will be very little time to correct the situation before a crash occurs. The appropriate recovery technique is to simultaneously reduce throttle, pull the control bar in to reduce pitch, and move the control bar to the side to level the wing. Pulling the control bar in to reduce pitch may seem contrary to a pilot’s instinct when the ground is rushing up, but it must be done to unload the wing and reduce control forces sufficiently to allow the pilot to level the wing. Once the wings are leveled, the pilot should be careful not to stall the wing or build up excessive speed to accomplish a successful dive recovery. Practicing recovery from a steep spiral should only be performed after receiving instruction from an experienced and properly certificated flight instructor. The purpose of practicing this maneuver is to build recognition of and a reflexive response to a steep-banked spiraling dive. Start all practice at an altitude that will permit a recovery at no lower than 1,000 feet above the ground. An altitude of at least 2,500 AGL is recommended. Before starting the maneuver, the pilot should ensure that the area is clear of other traffic. Begin with a steep turn in level flight with adequate power to maintain altitude and at a speed well above the stall speed for the planned bank angle. The bank angle should be at least 45 degrees and below the manufacturer’s maximum bank limitation. Allow the aircraft to begin a slow descent with a slight reduction in power, but be careful not to exceed the manufacturer’s airspeed limitations. It may be necessary to push the control bar out somewhat as part of establishing the spiral and to control speed. Once the steep spiral is established the pilot may notice that the control forces required to level the wing or counter the wing’s overbanking tendency will have increased. Do not push the control bar further out as it will likely result in an accelerated stall. Recovery should be initiated rapidly by simultaneously reducing the throttle to idle, pulling in the control bar, and reducing the bank angle to zero. A recovery must be performed by carefully controlling pitch and G-forces as the aircraft will naturally pitch up once the wings are level. As the airspeed returns to a normal cruise speed increase the throttle to maintain level flight. The pilot must be careful not to stall the aircraft or exceed airspeed limitations at all times. The following are some errors that are commonly made during the recovery of a steep spiral: • Failure to adequately clear the area. • Entering the maneuver at a speed inadequate to prevent a stall at the selected bank angle. • Allowing the airspeed to build rapidly without beginning a recovery. • Leveling the wing without pulling the bar in and reducing throttle. • Excessive pitch-up attitude during the recovery. • Stalling the wing anytime during the maneuver. • Failure to scan for other traffic before and during the maneuver.
  • wexford air
    by wexford air 11 months ago
    Good to see this included now. What about spirals with the bar in neutral or pulled back which sometimes happens when descending rapidly is required and the pilot is not paying attention to airspeed
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 11 months ago
    The recovery is the same. If the bar is already in then you are already part way there just roll level.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 11 months ago
    Lindsay, hang gliders do spiral into the ground and have the same aerodynamic principles for spiral recovery. Both stall and spiral are extremely simple to recover, yet both are counterintuitive corrective actions to the untrained pilot.

    There are many fixed wing spiral (not spin) fatalities as well. They are on YouTube that you can watch! I see them often enough. You generally see the wings actually flex from massive Gs the pilot pulls before impacting the ground.

    Trying to raise the nose by increasing AOA and power setting applies to ALL trikes and airplanes. Even the light and slow models. That is just a fact.

    My opinion is we have 3 groups.

    1 people that don't understand the problem.

    2 people that can't believe anyone could be so clueless as to need actual training for such a simple maneuver.

    3 people that realize there are lots of pilots that actually need training to recover from such a simple maneuver.

    There has been talk about the bar locking out on some wings (and the Hazzard 15 does this even on a 503 trike FYI) but the spiral training is much more basic than all of that. Forget stalled wings. Forget over Gd wings. Forget slipping turns. This about how to exit a spiral that ALL trike can do.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 11 months ago
    Lindsey trying to understand your point. This spiral recovery is for all trikes to save lives. AGAIN, just like airplanes and most stuff, it is typically the pilot training with common sense not the aircraft.
  • Bryan Tuffnell
    by Bryan Tuffnell 11 months ago
    Larry and Paul's posts give one reason why I'd prefer to see pilots rated than wings (though I'm not suggesting it). Perhaps trikes could be sold with a warranty:

    "We absolutely guarantee that this aircraft, like any other other, can kill you if not correctly flown. However, we have spent a considerable amount of time and money ensuring that this aircraft can be flown in perfect safety. Should you wish to fly with the attitude that the responsibility for safe flight rests solely with the manufacturer and not the pilot, please don't purchase this or any other aircraft. We have carefully designed and built this aircraft for those who possess a genuine pilot's attitude of self-responsibility, and can assure purchasers that anyone who understands the fundamental techniques of flying a trike will find that this aircraft obeys the laws of physics and will give a totally safe and totally predictable response to correct pilot input. We can do no more. The rest is in your hands."
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 11 months ago
    So just talked to one of my REV customers that just finished his training that will solo very soon. Welll... he finished his training because he felt he was "good enough" not because the instructor feels he is ready to solo. I pray he has a successful solo and and many more safe flights. But it makes me really apprehensive to sell REVs to people that say they will take training and then seem to, in many cases, solo before training is complete.

    It all boils down to how much one respects flying. As I always say " flying is Serious business"
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 11 months ago
    I have found that those who do not have the time and/or money for training do have the time and money for hospital bills, trike repairs and/or funeral costs. Comprehensive training is the common foundation for safety.
  • Jim Garrett
    by Jim Garrett 11 months ago
    Riz, get the training. It is worth it. I was lucky enough to get my experience with Wes Frey and to this day, I am very grateful. I am one that is looking forward to this continued training since I have not intentionally put my trike into a spiral on my own nor will I. Doing it with a CFI is the best and safetest way to face the monster. It works. May save your life.
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 11 months ago
    Jim, this topic has been discussed a lot in another blog in the past. I am not opposed to learning advance skills and maneuvers. I have already spoken to prominent instructors in our industry and have plan to do advance training next year. It is always great to learn from different expert instructors in the field.
  • jeff trike
    by jeff trike 11 months ago
    If you haven't been in a spiral dive or don't know what one is, you definitely need some training.

    However, I think the root cause to these spiral accidents is more related to a lack of situational awareness, complacency and contingency planning, than pilot skill. When you have 2000 ft of ground clearance over flat terrain, and you get into a diving turn or get the nose up and slow to respond, it barely registers in your consciousness.

    All complacency should go away when you are down low, or maneuvering. I have a basic flying reflex hardwired into me which is is any excitement, fear, concern, causes me to pull in on the bar. I know I am not alone in this. Bar pressure means responsive control, extra energy in the wing and safety, even when that seems to point the nose down at the earth. My trike does not have a variable CG shifter, and I like it that way. I think variable CG systems disconnect you from the merging of mind, body and wing that is best part of trike flying. Part of my anti-complacency mind set is the realization that any turn can be blown, and when that happens you can lose altitude in a hurry. The other instinct I have is that my trike is less responsive to turn inputs when the engine is spun up. So, when the thought of "Oh shit !#$& ", fleets through my mind, it's pull in and foot off the gas, without even thinking. That will get me out of any immediate threat due to unresponsive control, once that is taken care of, its climb out with power. If I need to escape rising terrain, the first priority is to turn away because there is now way you can out climb significant terrain.

    My instinctive fear response (pull in, foot off the gas) is just what is needed to escape a spiral dive. Develop that response and it will get you out of all sorts of other trouble. I rarely hear anyone talk about the fear triggering a bar in, foot off the gas response. Am I alone?

    Caveat ==> I have to actively fight that instinctive response in turbulence, but I will get there in a few seconds and set the manual throttle to slightly above the no climb RPM speed, and let the bar go to a slightly in from a neutral bar position, then ride the bumps and patiently guide to my trike along in heading from there.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 11 months ago
    Jeff, unfortunately bar in and off the gas is EXACTLY what trike pilots tend to do when scared. We see this when they are landing in conditions above their comfort level which is the action responsible for countless roll overs. Truthfully I think a lot of people especially at altitude are not scared and simply attempting to raise the nose the same way they do when the wings are level. And that is what doesn't work. Then I think people tend to freeze or do more of the same in many cases all the way in. I know that was my own experience when I was saved by my instructor back in the day. I'll never forget my first spiral... I had to be saved and it took place after solo. Now that is scary!
  • jeff trike
    by jeff trike 11 months ago
    Larry, the final stages of landing are a different story. And that can be a scary time if you are getting gusted all over the place and can't keep centered up and wings level. You need your foot off the gas so you can descend, but not all the way off incase you need use power to reset your approach and recenter up over the runway. In those final seconds you want excess speed from pulling in to get you into ground effect then slow down and don't be in a hurry to land. Landing should not be a discrete plop onto the runway. There is an huge psychological urge to plop down as fast as possible and get safely on the ground. But that is not the safe way to land. Set mains gently first, then a controlled lowering of the nose wheel. I know succumb to this urge at times, and usually go up and around one more time and do it right before heading to the hangar.

    One part from my post above I want to emphasize is that turns can be blown, and when they are blown you drop like a rock. It may not be due to an error piloting skill, it can be a gust of wind, or prop wash from following a trike ahead of you. So don't put yourself in a situation where a mistake (blown turn) will lead to a crash. That usually means excess alt and airspeed. If you are playing around near terrain, you already gave away altitude, so you gotta have the excess speed. I know of a lot of crashes, often with two in the trike where the gas pedal can't save you, where low altitude and low airspeed, combined with a gust led to a turn with an unresponsive wing that could not be corrected in time.

    Freezing is bad. That what the instructor is for. To get you to an experience level so don't freeze up anymore. But a new pilot is often cut loose after soloing. And if all they have experienced so far is perfect morning air, they are very vulnerable. Trike flying is serious stuff, not to be take casually. But so is driving in rush hour traffic and we all handle that. Its that we have forgotten how dangerous our first 100 hours of driving were. It probably takes as many hours to be a safe driver as a safe pilot.
  • Bryan Tuffnell
    by Bryan Tuffnell 11 months ago
    Jeff, you say "Any turn can be blown", "turns can be blown, and when they are you drop like a rock".

    I have a son who has flown my trike from the front seat (with me in the back) since becoming a teenager. His attitude to flying has recently changed from it being a really cool thing to do with Dad, to something he'd like to do solo. His 21st is coming up soon, and you can guess where this is going. :-)

    So, being a nervous father, I'd rather turn your comments around. My son's abilities rest not only in the skills training he gets from me but the attitude I project. There's no way I'll let him solo unless he has the attitude that "any turn can be perfectly controlled; there's no excuse for me to blow a turn; the only time I'll drop like a rock is if I CHOOSE to. I am in complete control of my aircraft at all times. Gusts and prop wash may cause a momentary upset, but they will not cause me to blow turns or lose control. I can, and always will, fly the aircraft." Before waving him off I want to know that he has the attitude that he, not fate, not chance, not gusts and not propwash, is always the one in command.

    Let's take a pragmatic, unemotional view. Turning properly isn't difficult. A spiral is only an accelerating balanced turn, allowed to autorotate. Really, how cool is that! (Oops, that's emotional). Recovery is the same as rolling out of any moderate or steep coordinated turn. It should be pathetically easy to balance a turn, roll a wing level, or recover from a spiral. We don't spin; we tend to have great climb rates - yesterday we were giggling over the miserable climbout of Piper Tomahawks taking off from our grass strip at 180' ASL - and I'll never understand how low airspeed contributes to accidents in an aircraft with the trim forces of a trike. We have a lot in our favour; our training just needs to catch up.
  • Damien B
    by Damien B 10 months ago
  • Bryan Tuffnell
    by Bryan Tuffnell 10 months ago
    At least trikes are immune to that sort of behaviour, and a spiral dive is much more benign and more easily corrected than general aviation's stall/spin! :-)
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