We’ve all heard many times that you can stall in any attitude and at any speed. What’s seldom mentioned, however, you can recover from a stall in any attitude too — given sufficient speed. If this seems either immaterial or outright dubious, read on.

I was up once with a video camera on the instrument panel pointed forward, looking for action. Suddenly here came another glider, crossing paths some hundreds of feet below, near enough for an interesting shot if I could reposition in time. I swung away in a sharp spilt-S, intentionally falling behind and below the bogey, then zoomed up on its six with energy to burn.

Though fully capable of this maneuver, I had never practiced with a ‘live’ target. Turned out I dove a bit too far and gathered more speed than necessary, so had to pull up hard to not pass under it. And that’s a textbook prescription for an accelerated stall.

We all know what ordinary stalls feel like, and don’t normally associate them with heavy Gs, but the camera doesn’t lie. Video shows the bogey coming into view from above, appearing to shudder as it falls off the bottom of the screen during the stall, then smoothly back to center screen during recovery.

Keep in mind, the other aircraft was straight and level the whole time; it’s my ship that shuddered. When the stall began I was pitched up 35 degrees or more at about a hundred knots, and remained well above level (still climbing) afterward. Stalling scrubbed just the right amount of excess energy, enabling a momentary pause to paint the rapidly growing target with imaginary tracers before lofting above it again. Kaboom.


Now think what might have happened if I had not recovered from the stall. Impossible to know with any precision, but the glider would have continued upward toward the victim for several seconds, slowing but effectively out of control. And…

The ugly truth is, that other pilot was oblivious of peril in which further misjudgment on my part, or a botched recovery, could have risked collision… There’s no stenciling a kill on your nose cone if your nose cone is what makes the kill.

And THIS is exactly why the FARs require PRIOR ARRANGEMENT!!