Slow flight is a fundamental maneuver that every general aviation pilot must master. This maneuver is typically practiced during flight training to help pilots develop the skills necessary to operate an aircraft at low speeds. In this article, we will discuss how to enter into slow flight and safely recover in a general aviation aircraft. Please note that these instructions are how my flight school does it in a Diamond DA20. Do not take this as flight instruction but more as education. Always listen to your flight instructor.
Slow flight is established normally just above stall, so always be extremely careful.
Entering into slow flight:
- Clear the area: Before starting any
maneuver, it is essential to clear the area for traffic and other hazards. Perform the H.A.S.E.L. check.
- Reduce power: Reduce power to an appropriate level (Usually around 1500RPM in the Diamond DA20 that I fly) that will maintain altitude and stabilize the aircraft at a slower speed.
- Extend flaps: Extend flaps to their appropriate setting for slow flight. This will allow the aircraft to maintain lift at a slower speed. (This can be optional)
- Adjust pitch: Adjust pitch to maintain altitude while slowing down the aircraft. As the aircraft slows down, the pilot will need to adjust the pitch to maintain altitude.
- Add power as necessary: If the aircraft begins to lose altitude, add power as necessary to maintain altitude.
- Maintain coordination: During slow flight, it is essential to maintain coordinated flight. Use rudder inputs to keep the aircraft coordinated and prevent a stall. At slower speeds the ailerons are not as effective and the rudder becomes your friend.
It is perfectly normal to be in a nose-up attitude during slow flight.
Safely recovering from slow flight:
- Increase power: Increase power (Full power) to accelerate the aircraft and regain normal flying speed. Pitch the nose down just enough to prevent climbing as you add power.
- Reduce flaps: Reduce flaps in stages to their appropriate setting for normal flight.
- Adjust pitch: Adjust pitch to maintain altitude and airspeed.
- Regain coordinated flight: As the aircraft accelerates, it is essential to regain coordinated flight and prevent a stall.
- Resume normal flight: Once the aircraft has regained normal flying speed and is stable, resume normal flight operations.
Tips for mastering slow flight:
- Start slow: Begin practicing slow flight at a safe altitude with plenty of room to recover.
- Maintain coordination: During slow flight, it is critical to maintain coordinated flight (Use the rudder to keep the wings level) to prevent a stall.
- Practice with different flap settings: Practice slow flight with different flap settings to become comfortable with how the aircraft handles at different speeds.
- Don’t be afraid to add power: If the aircraft begins to lose altitude during slow flight (The stall horn is your friend), don’t be afraid to add power to maintain altitude.
Practice regularly to develop the skills necessary to operate an aircraft at low speeds and safely recover from slow flight. Remember to always maintain coordination, start slow, and practice with different flap settings to become comfortable with the maneuver.
Slow flight is used more often than you think. Every time we execute a normal landing, we are doing it in slow flight.