Spin Avoidance

Together with winch accidents and mid air collisions, inadvertent stalling and spinning accounts for approximately 80% of all fatal accidents in gliding. The safe winching initiative is having a positive effect. But pilots find a great many other ways to spin their gliders into the ground.

The statistics describe how there have been 165 fatal spinning accidents since 1974. Only one (perhaps two) were from pilots practising spinning. Read on to find out why carefully managed spin training will help to keep you safe.

A key issue that comes from studying each individual spinning accident is that in almost all cases it appeared that the pilot was concentrating on something other than flying the glider at the time of the accident. In other words, in the majority of spinning accidents the pilot appears to have been distracted. Recognition of stall/spin symptoms and the correct reaction to them needs to be almost automatic. That can only come from practice.

So what should you do to avoid becoming the next stall/spin statistic?

  • You need to recognise what it looks, feels and sounds like when a glider is about to spin and how to stop the glider departing into a spin, with minimum height loss
  • And you need to recognise a developed spin and be able to recover from it using the correct recovery action


Spin training

Of course planned spinning where height and other important points are considered is perfectly safe. Trying it in a two seat glider with an instructor and then practicing in your single seat glider is a great investment.

The instruction is all about spin avoidance and should cover airmanship considerations, how to recognise a stall, a wing drop, and a spin – and in each case how to recover with minimum height loss.

Spin practice

Once you and your instructor are confident in your ability, you are encouraged to re-read your flight manual and providing it’s permitted (very few gliders are not permitted to spin for safety training purposes), spin your own glider. If not permitted to spin, taking it to the point of wing drop gives you lots of information on its behaviour.

Be defensive

In the majority of spinning accidents the pilot appears to have been distracted such that they missed vital warning signs of an imminent stall/spin scenario. Read this S&G article on the subject of defensive flying.