During the recent forum on loss of control (LOC) hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C., Master Instructor Rich Stowell proposed the “Learn to Turn” initiative as one solution to reduce LOC accidents.
According to NTSB Member Earl Weener, fatal LOC accidents have presented a “stubbornly recurrent safety challenge” for general aviation.
Stowell, who served on the Training Solutions panel, noted that losing control during the maneuvering phase was the dominant cause of fatal LOC. Broken out as its own accident category, LOC while maneuvering would be the third leading cause of fatal accidents in general aviation.
To reduce the frequency of fatal LOC while maneuvering, the flight training system has to do a much better job regarding turn dynamics, according to Stowell.
“In the classic ‘Stick and Rudder,’ Wolfgang Langewiesche noted that loss of control while turning was the top cause of fatal accidents as far back as 1944,” he said. “Langewiesche concluded that pilots simply didn’t know how to turn. Little has changed. As a group, pilots continue to possess a cursory understanding of turning flight, and are capable of successfully performing only the most basic of turns.”
While Stowell is best known as a spin and emergency maneuver training instructor, he believes a focus on learning to turn could help pilots avoid LOC while maneuvering. He envisions a professionally produced, multi-media experience available to pilots at no cost.
“I hope this becomes a cooperative effort among aviation stakeholders.” Stowell continued. “Buy in from instructors and training providers will be essential as the project evolves, too.”
To get the initiative started, Stowell has created a simple landing page at Community Aviation, along with a link where those who support the concept can sign up.
Rich Stowell is a noted subject matter expert on loss of control in general aviation. He is a charter member of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), the 2014 National FAASTeam Rep of the Year, and the 2006 National CFI of the Year. He has performed 34,000 spins — equivalent to 1,600 vertical miles rotating earthward in an airplane.