SURPRISE YOURSELF
Flying|December 2020
UPSET TRAINING TO PREPARE PILOTS FOR THE UNEXPECTED
JULIE BOATMAN

I remember flow states, during times of stress in the airplane, when time slows down just a bit—enough to help me manage a given situation deliberately and appropriately.

THERE IS NO FLOW TODAY.

Flashing back to two days ago, I recall a comment that has lodged in my mind, and I work hard to apply those words to the situation at hand: “It’s just a position in the sky that you have to deal with.”

So says Mike Burke, instructor for Prevailance Aerospace in Chesapeake, Virginia, as we’re finishing up the first ground session of a threeday upset-prevention-and- recovery training course that I’ve signed on to; UPRT trains pilots to recognize and recover from unusual attitudes and aircraft upsets. We would be preparing to head out to the airplane to start into it, except for the scuds of what was once Hurricane Isaias trudging across the airport.

The syllabus calls for three instructional sessions, each followed by an hourlong flight in one of the school’s Extras—a 330 or 330LX. Fortunately, I’m in a class of one, and the training is designed to flex for just such occasions because the UPRT flights need to be flown in good VFR conditions, with enough ceiling, visibility and cloud clearance for the tasks ahead.

We soldier ahead through the second ground session. By the time we begin tackling the third, the weather has cleared to CAVU. Vanessa Christie, founder and president of Prevailance Aerospace, helps me strap into the seat-pack parachute we’re required to wear for the aerobatic maneuvers ahead. Though I’ve put on my own pack dozens of times, the company takes the extra precaution of assisting its customers in the move, to ensure that it’s on just as tightly as it needs to be and to help pilots get into the front seat in what may be a relatively unfamiliar situation.

The Extra 330 and 330LX were selected for the training because their aerodynamic margins lay well outside the envelope in which we’ll fly. We’ve specifically reviewed the 330LX’s maneuvering and limiting airspeeds, along with the fact it’s rated for plus or minus 8 Gs with two people on board. Nothing we’re going to do will take us intentionally above 4 Gs or below minus 1 G—so we’re well within the airplane’s capabilities.

I’m upfront—the Extra is flown solo from the back—with only a handful of instruments in front of me on the panel. The Sandia attitude indicator has the breaker pulled because I’ll be recovering from each upset visually during this course and to keep us from having to reset it. Burke has all the navigation in the rear cockpit and a native’s familiarity with the airspace near us, which feels the nearby presence of Naval Air Station Oceana (Burke’s a retired Navy pilot). He’ll taxi out and take off so I can focus on the tasks ahead; this isn’t a training session to get me checked out in the 330LX, which takes a certain amount of finesse to handle on the ground. The flights to come will make me want to revisit the airplane, though. It’s a sweet companion for the next few hours we’ll spend together.

The first flight is spent reviewing basic aerobatics—wingovers, aileron rolls and a loop—plus nonviolent upsets, involving recoveries from just past the standard aerobatic limits of 60 degrees of bank and 30 degrees nose up or down. I find it relatively easy to apply the steps I’ve been taught to recover—but I’ve seen these attitudes before in an airplane.

My moment of truth comes on the second day, during our third flight overall. Normally, Prevailance doesn’t plan for two flights in a day for most pilots because of the stress involved for the body and mind. But weather has forced our hand a bit, and I’m game to try the third flight after a good morning session doing spins, more aerobatics and bigger upsets.

A UPRT Syllabus

The basis for the Prevailance Aerospace syllabus is found in the advisory circular covering UPRT, AC 120-109 “Stall Prevention and Recovery Training,” and aimed at meeting the Part 121 flying requirements in AC 120-111, “Upset Prevention and Recovery Training.” Compliance at the airline level is mandatory as of March 2019 under the FAA; the requirement under the European Union Aviation Safety Agency became mandatory in April 2019, including basic UPRT within initial pilot training for the commercial pilot license and airline transport pilot license.

The core of the recovery process lies in this step-by-step procedure:

1. Uncouple (autopilot off, if using)/neutralize/analyze

2. Push to unload

3. Roll to recover

4. Power adjusted as needed

5. Steps to return to the previous phase of flight, if that makes sense

What can you do if a full-up UPRT course isn’t in the cards right now? Take a look at the following sample accident scenarios, and discuss them with your instructor in your next periodic proficiency session.

* February 2012: At Melbourne International Airport (KMLB) in Florida, a Cirrus SR22 crashed in the traffic pattern maneuvering to follow another airplane.

* January 2017: A wake-turbulence encounter occurred between an Emirates A380 flying from Mali, West Africa, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and a Challenger 604, with the Challenger’s diversion to Muscat, Oman.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FLYINGView All

Sudden Surprise Trouble

What the FAA taketh away, it giveth back.

4 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

LIFE IN THE AIR: Living the Dream

The journey from M X to CFI

5 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

Doc, David, Herb and the Cops

A once-in-a-lifetime B-29 flight

5 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

WHEN THE MUSIC DIES

VFR FLIGHT INTO IMC

10+ mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

WE FLY: FLIGHT DESIGN F2

AN ALL-AROUND ALL- COMPOSITE TREAT

10+ mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

Tail Tales

What works on one airplane might not work on another.

5 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

STINSON 108

THE FLYING STATION WAGON

6 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

Blame for the 737 Max

The FAA designee program is too big to fail.

5 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

Bittersweet Goodbye

Leaving the flight deck amidst a pandemic

7 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021

An Aviation Mentor

Why it’s so important

4 mins read
Flying
January - February 2021
RELATED STORIES

SEARCHING for HEROES

These are three stories of discovery from New Zealand.

4 mins read
Faces - The Magazine of People, Places and Cultures for Kids
November/December 2020

How to Become A Bear Hunter

Rookie Mistakes in Baiting Bears - You’ve got to do a lot of things right to kill a mature bear over bait, especially on a DIY hunt.

5 mins read
Bear Hunting Magazine
September - October 2020

Sounds of Laughter

Life may not be easy, but we can be kinder to ourselves and others and try to find the positive, good things in our world.

3 mins read
Transformation Magazine
September 2020

THE BLACK SWAN

Are You Overtrained, or Undertrained?

4 mins read
Muscular Development
August 2020

Serayah McNeill: Working on Her Empire — From Home!

FIND OUT SERAYAH’S SECRETS TO DOING IT ALL. You may know her as Tiana Brown Lyon on the hit TV show Empire. But offscreen, Serayah McNeill is working on an empire of her own. As a singer, actress, model and key figure in her mother Kanika’s charity, Deserving Love, she’s busier than ever these days.

2 mins read
Star
July 6, 2020

HOW TO CLEAN THE BUNDLE OF GERMS THAT IS YOUR PHONE

You’re washing your hands countless times a day to try to ward off the coronavirus.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
March 20, 2020

BLUE RIDGE NATIONALS

The secpond stop on the 2020 National circuit was close to home for riders from the East Coast, being held at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia.

5 mins read
PULL Magazine
March 2020

Being Shot

WAS THE PROFESSOR DYING OR MERELY EXPERIENCING A NEW KIND OF AMERICAN DISCOURSE?

10+ mins read
Playboy Sweden
December 2019

Our Hanukkah Tree

A Jewish daughter searches for the perfect giftfor her Christian mother

3 mins read
Guideposts
December 2019 - January 2020

'I Believe'

It was Christmas Eve morning, and I awoke with a mission: to find my lost cat, Baby-Girl. As I got ready, I could hear icy rain pelting the windows. I said a quick prayer for Baby-Girl. She was out there somewhere in the storm, I could just feel it. Sure, it had been six months since she’d gone missing, but I still had faith. It was the season for miracles, after all.

5 mins read
Mysterious Ways
Dec/Jan 2020