Student stalls, spins

Aircraft: Rans S-12. Injuries: None. Location: Festus, Mo. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: Neither the student pilot nor his instructor had flown the airplane before the accident flight. The student pilot had recently purchased the airplane and was receiving flight instruction toward a sport-pilot license.

The CFI reported that the airplane was high on final approach so he told the student pilot to perform a go-around. The airplane was about 50 feet above the runway when the student pilot applied full power.

The airplane entered a steep left climbing turn. The student pilot overcorrected and the airplane then entered a steep right turn.

The CFI took the controls as the airplane was approaching an imminent aerodynamic stall/spin but could not get control of the airplane before the stall/spin happened. The airplane collided with trees.

The CFI said that the accident could have been prevented had he assumed direct control of the airplane sooner instead of providing verbal corrective actions to the student pilot.

Probable cause: The CFI’s delayed remedial action as the airplane neared an aerodynamic stall/spin. Contributing to the accident was that the student pilot did not maintain adequate airspeed during the go-around attempt.

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA102

This December 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. Agree with the consensus re. the instructor. Instructors are certainly not created equal, just because someone has passed the CFI checkride doesn’t mean they are good instructors, or good in a particular aircraft. Have seen too many 20-something newly minted CFI’s with more ego than skill.

    I too, get so weary of seeing the misleading refrain in magazines of ‘get an instructor and go practice’ …… should be get a ‘good instructor who has solid experience with whatever it is you want/need to practice, and with the particular aircraft’.

    • I have been around aviation long enough to have seen more then a few CFI’s that I would never want to get instruction from. This is the group that have no real interest in instruction, just see it as the quickest route to building time for an airline type job. These accident reports would be much easier to interpret if they included such useful information as total experience (and quality of experience) for the pilot(s) concerned. This could well have been a newly minted CFI who is building time and has never been exposed to Ultralight / LSA types of aircraft. It could also be the exact opposite and just a case of giving a student too much oppertunity to screw up before taking over. We will never know based on the very limited data made available to us.

  2. They were both students, neither had experience with this aircraft, it was inevitable.

  3. The “uncommanded turn” could have been caused by engine torque, usually a right turn with a Rotax but the S-12 is a “pusher so the turn would be to the left. Pusher aircraft also react differently to throttle changes, do to the high thrust line. The basic flaw here is that it was the instructors first time in the aircraft and so the instructor was likely surprised by the airplanes reaction. The mantra of “get an instructor and practice” is NOT a safety net if the instructor has no experience in the aircraft. In this case it was a student pilot, but how many times have you read the magazine article that say “get an instructor and go practice spins etc.? It is legal but not a lot of help if neither of you have experience in the airplane or maneuver.

  4. An Airplane can’s spin if it is not allowed to turn first. Wayne Handley explains this in a very important video called “Turn Smart” Check it out.

  5. I would question how much experience the instructor had if he allowed such a situation to develop without taking control. Why was the student even attempting a turn when executing a go around at such a low altitude, it should have been straight ahead until reaching a reasonable altitude.

  6. I was surprised when I read the headline that there were no injuries! From what I know, most stall spin accidents are fatal. I looked up some information about the S-12 and found out this aircraft stalls at 28 knots and hit some trees.

    From the remark by V. Price, I gather they are part of this blind leading the blind that is mentioned. When stalls are being taught, the objective for the student is to recognize them and prevent them. However to learn how to recovery from a stall, the aircraft is allowed to stall and then recovery procedures are enacted. Stalls are practiced at a safe altitude to give plenty of time to recovery.

    Aerobatic training of lack thereof had nothing to do with prevention of this accident. The CFI reacted to late as the airplane neared an aerodynamic stall/spin and once the aircraft stalled and began to spin there was not enough altitude to recovery . A spin can not happen unless a stall happens first. Had the CFI prevented the stall, this accident would of not happened.

  7. vaughn price says:

    The Blind leading the blind I bet the instructor had no aerobatic experience

    • Doug Rodrigues says:

      I agree with your comment about the instructor probably not having aerobatic experience. If he did, he would have recognized what the control inputs result would be. Strange he didn’t feel what the airplane was doing until it was too late?

      • Because, he was a student himself, you must learn the aircraft before you can teach, be dammed the aerobics, simply know your plane.

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