Unusual Attitudes Require Unusual Training



Our Aircraft

You’ll fly two different aerobatic aircraft: a Marchetti SF 260 and a Zlin 242L. (An M26 Airwolf is also available.) This will allow you to compare flying qualities. We’ll use our flight-test tools to define the differences between our aircraft, and we’ll explore the implications of those differences during unusual-attitude flight. This “comparative” approach to upset training is as valuable for low-time pilots just starting out as it is for more experienced pilots preparing for flight-test operations.

Aircraft Features

The aircraft are Lycoming-powered, with FAA Standard Airworthiness Certificates in the Utility-Aerobatic Category, and built to military training requirements. Because the aircraft have tricycle gear and don’t require tailwheel experience, students can do all the flying. Flight instrumentation allows unusual-attitude practice in simulated IMC. The low wings permit tufting for airflow visualization—a valuable teaching tool. Because the aircraft have flaps, we can demonstrate downwash effects and the concept of crossover speed. The aircraft are responsive, well-harmonized, and the Zlin is capable of  negative-g maneuvers including outside loops, tail slides, and sustained inverted flight. They’re rugged, exciting to fly, and have large, comfortable cockpits. Their side-by-side seating creates an ideal teaching environment.


                      View from the Zlin (click on image)

Flight Characteristics for Unusual-Attitude Training

The Zlin and Marchetti demonstrate very clearly the coupled responses in yaw and roll necessary for understanding departure characteristics and upset recovery in most laterally stable aircraft. These responses are tuned out of aerobatic aircraft certified under the lateral stability exemption of FAR Part 23.177(c), such as the Extra or Pitts. This makes the latter two less representative of the behavior of the general fleet. While they are excellent for high-performance aerobatics training, they are less suited for unusual-attitude training given to pilots who will then fly conventional aircraft. This is especially so in the case of swept-wing aircraft, which have pronounced yaw/roll couple. (For more on aircraft, and on instructor, requirements: see.)

Transferring Skills, Making Comparisons

You’ll find that flying more than one type of aircraft during upset training reinforces your ability to transfer (and if necessary to modify) recovery techniques learned in one cockpit to another. Confidence in that ability is crucial to reaction time, and essential in a future upset emergency in your own aircraft. Spinning more than one aircraft allows comparison of departure and recovery behaviors. The Zlin and Marchetti have different stability and control characteristics. The resulting contrast in flying qualities makes the aircraft the perfect pair for Flightlab’s comparison-based approach to unusual-attitude training.

And over 20 countries use variants of the Marchetti SF 260 as their primary military trainer!

Here’s a link to more information on the SF 260. Here’s a link to more information on the Zlin 242 and its predecessors.

SIAI Marchetti SF 260

SIAI Marchetti  SF 260


What About Jets for Unusual-Attitude Training?

Aerobatics and unusual-attitude training build durable airmanship skills by repetition. Unfortunately, the available aerobatic jet trainers, like the L-39, are expensive to operate on an hourly basis. As a result, for the same or less investment you can experience substantially more maneuver types and repetitions in a piston-engine trainer. Claims that jet trainers have more suitable distribution of mass in fuselage and wings, and thus more accurately reflect corporate jets, are open to debate. Jets demand less rudder work, but the major difference between prop and jet is that jets require a greater altitude band because of their higher speeds. (Roughly speaking, for a given G profile the altitude required in recovering from nose-down attitudes rises exponentially with airspeed: so double the speed means four times the altitude.) Train in a piston-engine aircraft first. After that, jet training will have more value.

Home     Upset/Aerobatics Program     Who Should Attend     Aircraft     Ground School

 Download Course Notes     Courses, Costs, Location     Spins.pdf     Video     Contact


          Dear Bill,

I am taking this opportunity to let you know that the recent Spin Training course I took with you was not only enlightening, exhilarating, awakening, and beneficial, but a lot of fun as well. I now have a much better understanding of the conditions leading up to a spin, the techniques used to recover, and the aerodynamics of spins. All of these aspects are, in my opinion, essential to every pilot flying today.

As I meet pilots now and in the future, rest assured that I will recommend that they contact you and Flightlab as their first choice for spin training. Keep up the good work. You are truly benefiting the aviation community.

Very truly yours,

William L. Snow, PE

Recommendations: CFI Spin Training