Wednesday August 25, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Spin

On this Day:

In 1912, the first time an aircraft successfully recovered from a spin occured.

In flight dynamics a spin is a special category of stall resulting in autorotation (uncommanded roll) about the aircraft’s longitudinal axis and a shallow, rotating, downward path approximately centred on a vertical axis. Spins can be entered intentionally or unintentionally, from any flight attitude if the aircraft has sufficient yaw while at the stall point.  In a normal spin, the wing on the inside of the turn stalls while the outside wing remains flying. It is possible for both wings to stall, but the angle of attack of each wing, and consequently its lift and drag, are different.

Either situation causes the aircraft to autorotate toward the stalled wing due to its higher drag and loss of lift. Spins are characterized by high angle of attack, an airspeed below the stall on at least one wing and a shallow descent. Recovery and avoiding a crash may require a specific and counter-intuitive set of actions.

A spin differs from a spiral dive in which neither wing is stalled and which is characterized by a low angle of attack and high airspeed. A spiral dive is not a type of spin because neither wing is stalled. In a spiral dive, the aircraft responds conventionally to the pilot’s inputs to the flight controls and recovery from a spiral dive requires a different set of actions from those required to recover from a spin.

In the early years of flight, a spin was frequently referred to as a “tailspin”.
In aviation’s early days, spins were poorly understood and often fatal. Proper recovery procedures were unknown, and a pilot’s instinct to pull back on the stick served only to make a spin worse. Because of this, the spin earned a reputation as an unpredictable danger that might snatch an aviator’s life at any time, and against which there was no defense. In early aviation, individual pilots explored spins by performing ad-hoc experiments (often accidentally), and aerodynamicists examined the phenomenon. Lincoln Beachey was able to exit spins at will, according to Harry Bruno in Wings over America (1944).

In August 1912, Lieutenant Wilfred Parke RN became the first aviator to recover from an accidental spin when his Avro Type G biplane entered a spin at 700 feet (210 m) AGL in the traffic pattern at Larkhill. Parke attempted to recover from the spin by increasing engine speed, pulling back on the stick, and turning into the spin, with no effect. The aircraft descended 450 feet (140 m), and horrified observers expected a fatal crash. Though disabled by centrifugal forces, Parke still sought an escape. In an effort to neutralize the forces pinning him against the right side of the cockpit, he applied full right rudder, and the aircraft leveled out 50 feet (15 m) above the ground. With the aircraft now under control, Parke climbed, made another approach, and landed safely.

In spite of the discovery of “Parke’s technique” spin-recovery procedures were not a routine part of pilot training until well into World War I. The first documented case of an intentional spin and recovery is that of Harry Hawker. In the summer of 1914, Hawker recovered from an intentional spin over Brooklands, England, by centralizing the controls. Russian aviator Konstantin Artseulov, having independently discovered a recovery technique, somewhat different from Parke’s and Hawker’s, on the frontlines, demonstrated it in a dramatic display over the Kacha flight school’s airfield on September 24, 1916, intentionally driving his Nieuport 21 into a spin and recovering from it twice. Later, Artseulov, at the time an instructor at the school, went on to teach this technique to all of his students, quickly disseminating it among the Russian aviators and beyond.

In 1917, the English physicist Frederick Lindemann conducted a series of experiments in a B.E.2E that led to the first understanding of the aerodynamics of the spin. In Britain, starting in 1917, spin recovery procedures were routinely taught by flight instructors at the Gosport School of Special Flying, while in France, at the School of Acrobacy and Combat, Americans who had volunteered to serve in the famous Lafayette Escadrille were by July 1917 learning how to do what the French called a vrille.

During the 1920s and 1930s, before night-flying instruments were commonly available on small aircraft, pilots were often instructed to enter a spin deliberately to avoid the much more dangerous graveyard spiral when they suddenly found themselves enveloped in clouds, hence losing visual reference to the ground. In almost every circumstance, the cloud deck ends above ground level, giving the pilot a reasonable chance to recover from the spin before crashing.

Today, spin training is not required for private pilot certification in the United States; added to this, most training type aircraft are placarded “intentional spins prohibited”. Some model Cessna 172’s are certified for spinning, although they can be difficult to actually get into a spin. Generally, though, spin training is undertaken in an “Unusual attitude recovery course” or as a part of an aerobatics endorsement (though not all countries actually require training for aerobatics). However, understanding and being able to recover from spins is certainly a skill that a fixed-wing pilot could learn for safety. It is routinely given as part of the training in sailplanes, since gliders often operate slowly enough to be in near-stall conditions while turning. Because of this, in the U.S. demonstration of spin entry and recovery is still expected of glider instructor certification. Also, before their initial certifications both airplane and glider instructors need a logbook endorsement of proficiency in spin training which, under Federal Aviation Regulations 61.183, may be given by another instructor. In Canada, spins are a mandatory exercise to get the private and commercial pilot licenses; Canadian recreational pilot permit candidates (1 level below private pilot license) must do a stall and wing drop (the very beginning of the entry to a spin) and must recover from a stall and wing drop as part of training (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What is a “Cycle, gyration, reel, revolution, rotation, run, spin, trundling, turn, twirl, undulation, whirl…” ?

A Synonym roll..

Second, a Song:

Albert Ellmenreich was a German actor, writer, singer and composer. He was born on 10 February 1816 in Karlsruhe, Germany, and died on 30 May 1905 in Lübeck.

Ellmenreich was the son of Johann Ellmenreich and his wife Friederike. He grew up in the cities of Hamburg (1817), Mannheim (1820) and Frankfurt (1821). In Frankfurt, Ellmenreich finished school and joined the Frankfurt Theatre’s choir (1833). In 1834, he found work in Altenburg. Appearances in Nürnberg (1834), Düsseldorf (1835) and Schwerin (1836) followed. In Schwerin his mother lived with him until her death in 1845. At the Hoftheater (Court Theatre) of Schwerin, Ellmenreich became a member of the ensemble and remained so until 1860. For one year, until 1861, he led the theater in Rostock. For many years a tour life followed which led him as an actor to Breslau, Meiningen, Mainz, and Berlin. As a director he worked in Rotterdam, Mainz, Frankfurt, Krefeld, Bamberg, Würzburg, Riga, Danzig, Sigmaringen, and Poznań tätig.

In 1883 Ellmenreich celebrated his fiftieth stage anniversary. In 1884 he withdrew from the stage and retired, then moved to Lübeck. Albert Ellmenreich died in Lübeck on 30 May 1905. He was 89 years old (per Wikipedia).

Christopher Brent received his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Oakland University where he studied with Dr. Yin Zheng. He has also attended the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has taught piano privately for 15 years and is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, The Michigan Music Teachers Association, and The Metropolitan Detroit Musicians League. He teaches at his own private studio, adjacent to the SwingTEK Golf Academy in Troy, MI located near 15 Mile Rd. and Livernois. He received the 2009 Matilda Dodge Award for Piano Performance – Oakland University Prize winner in MMTA competitions and events (per

Here is Christopher Brent performing The Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“I won’t go up in a plane, but if a play crashes, I’ll jump into the next one that comes along and take it up for a spin.” – Paul Muni

Further to the Hashtag Smile, Sandy Weames of Campbell River, BC, Canada writes:


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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