Spin

Written by Dan Knippen

This month I’ll explain the right and wrong ways to perform a Spin. But first I need to make a correction on last month’s description of a snap roll. I found out I had made a minor mistake in my translation of a snap roll. I stated that for the left or right positive snap roll the nose of the plane must come up and be followed by auto rotation of 360 degrees stopping upright at the same altitude. This is all correct except after the snap the plane will not end up at the same altitude as it started. As long as your plane maintains the same heading after the snap roll there should be no downgrade for this occurrence. I’m glad you all caught this and it won’t happen again (Right ­ LeRoy).

As with snap rolls, spins are one of the hardest maneuvers to judge and perform as well. I confirmed this in mid April when my wife Glenda and I attended the North Central Judging School at the AMA Flying site in Muncie, Indiana. This was a two­day seminar with classroom instruction on Saturday and actual judging at the field on Sunday. We had 30 attendees in the class and on Sunday Mike McConville and John Glezellas showed us the right and wrong ways to do snaps, spins and other maneuvers. Then we all got to judge Mike and John as they each flew some of the 2004 sequences. Surprisingly the group all had pretty much the same score within 1 to 1­1/2 points from each other. When the scores were compared for snaps and spins many of us had some discrepancies on what we really saw during these maneuvers. But I guess that is why its called judging. This is why I have chosen these two hardest maneuvers. Individuals have lost contests just because a spin or snap roll was performed incorrectly. As I’ve stated before “zeros suck” !

OK, let’s spin! Spins can be preformed either up wind or down wind. But the best way to achieve good spin is into the wind. A spin is a stalled maneuver. Please Note: WHEN THE AIRCRAFT ACTUALLY STALLS, THE NOSE WILL FALL AND AT THE SAME TIME THE WING TIP WILL DROP IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SPIN! If you can do that you’re on the way to good score. If your plane fails to do this then you have not performed a proper spin. This could be considered a “forced entry” and a downgrade or zero could be given. An inverted spin will have the same criteria and is judged the same way. For now I will tell you how to do a one turn upright spin into the wind. As you make your approach to spin you want to gradually lower your throttle to Idle. If the idle is to high the plane will not slow down enough to stall. If the idle is too low you could end up dead stick and the rest of the round would be zeroed. Or you may end up in a tree as did while practicing this maneuver. During the time the plane is approaching the stall you must maintain the same flight path until the nose and wing drop into the spin. The pitch or attitude of the plane is not a factor and there is no downgrade as long as the plane doesn’t climb prior to the spin. When the spin finally occurs, the speed of auto rotation is not a factor as long as the plane stops at the preset heading. Some planes will spin and auto rotate at different speeds than others. As with hammerheads and tailslides the spin being a stalled maneuver, cannot be wind corrected once the stall begins. During the spins any wind drift should not be downgraded. When doing a spin into a crosswind you will have to maintain your line by crabbing into the wind. When the spin starts your plane might be 30 to 40 degrees off heading. Even though you may only do a 3/4 spin, as long as you stop at the preset heading there will be no downgrade for this either.