The focus on prevention is a significant shift from previous upset or unusual attitude training, which primarily focused on recovering
from a fully developed upset.
Well, I broke the rules.
I did not feature a twin or turbine on the cover…but it got your attention, right? That was my goal, as this issue focuses on an important topic: upset recovery training.
Upset training has popped up with increasing regularity over the last few years as the FAA, owner-pilot groups and general aviation (GA) organizations have turned a collective focus toward minimizing incidents related to loss of control inflight (LOC-I). Loss of control can occur when an aircraft enters a configuration outside its normal flight envelope, which can quickly develop into a stall or spin. It is the leading cause of GA accidents.
To help shed light on the matter, we reached out to renowned aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff. Since 2013, Patty has been an active instructor at her flight school Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School in St. Augustine, Florida, which offers both aerobatic courses and upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT). In addition to stall training, UPRT is a training element aimed at reducing loss of control events, but ultimately preparing pilots for a successful recovery if they do occur. The FAA labels an effective UPRT course as the following:
An effective UPRT curriculum provides pilots with the knowledge and skills to prevent an upset, or if not prevented, to recover from an upset. Training should focus on preventing upsets rather than waiting to recover from one. The focus on prevention is a significant shift from previous upset or unusual attitude training, which primarily focused on recovering from a fully developed upset. Prevention training prepares pilots to avoid incidents, while recovery training intends to avoid an accident if an upset occurs.
Initially a skeptic, Patty shares in her article how her personal view of upset training, and the industry’s attention on the matter, has evolved in recent years. She and fellow UPRT instructor and retired fighter pilot Jeff Rochelle offer valuable insights and advice from their years of experience instructing in the GA community. (Also keeping with the upset recovery theme this issue is Dianne’s “Position Report” as well as “Fly It Like a Fighter”).
Several owner-pilot associations have developed safety programs that encourage participation in UPRT courses. The Malibu/M-Class Owner Pilots Association (MMOPA), led by our own Dianne White, has rolled out the Master Aviator program that focuses on the three key areas that lead to accidents in the PA46 community: loss of control, skill deficits in directional control and lack of proficiency due to infrequent or irregular flying schedules.
“We created a program that asks our members to train intentionally to address those areas while adding a spirit of competition. If they meet all the requirements, which includes 100 hours of flying per year and upset training, they will be awarded the MMOPA Master Aviator wings,” said White. “Member participation has been fantastic, and the hope is that our members will be safer and better prepared pilots.”
Another type-specific group, the Citation Jet Pilots Association (CJP), has developed the Gold Standard Safety Award program, which recognizes Citation pilots who go above and beyond minimum Citation currency requirements such as completing a second 61.58 check at a Part 142 simulator training provider, adding a rating or undergoing upset recovery training. Charlie Precourt, former NASA astronaut and chairman of the CJP Safety Committee, believes UPRT should be mandatory for all pilots early in their pilot training.
“The ability to recognize an upset scenario and respond with the correct recovery is crucial. I’ve seen some students in this training complete ‘split S’ high speed dives trying to recover from inverted attitudes when a simple roll to upright was all that was required,” said Precourt. “Once this learning is gained, the confidence it gives to handle virtually any upset is a huge plus to safety. The ‘how’ is exposure to the range of upset scenarios, such as nose high, nose low, high speed and low speed – with an easily learned set of responses. The ‘why’ is no other method can teach the proper reflexes and ‘first move’ to make in an upset situation.”
While the efforts of these organizations and others are nothing short of encouraging, it is ultimately up to you, the pilot, to maintain and improve the necessary skills for safe flying. I hope the information you read in this issue of Twin & Turbine either reaffirms your current efforts, or inspires you to take your training to the next level. After all, practice makes perfect. And if we’re going to seek perfection, let it be when it matters most.