Perpetuating Aerodynamic Myth


An interesting piece of news reporting from the Denver Post.

A couple days ago the Denver Post printed a story about a Plane Crash near Denver.  The following is an excerpt from that article, which a link to has been provided at the bottom of this post.

"Jay Loar, an Erie resident who was goose hunting in an adjacent field, said he saw the plane circle once earlier in the morning and climb steeply into a "stall" maneuver, wherein the plane’s engine stalls on the ascent and comes back on during the swift descent."

Reporting like illustrates the types of myth that are perpetuated by the media, the general public, and even some second rate flight instructors.  I can’t even count the number of times a new student was fearful of the engine quitting during a stall because they had heard a story like this before.

Setting the record straight…

A stall is an aerodynamic event where progressively increasing angle of attack (raising the nose) results in seperation of airflow from the top of the wing.  A stall has absolutely nothing to do with the engine.  As another instructor (Sandy Hill) put it… "Birds and Gliders can also stall, but neither have an engine."

Recovery from a stall is as simple as lowering the nose of the aircraft, which decreases the angle of attack of the wing, and returns smooth airflow to the top of the wing to restore lift.

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