Thursday, December 3, 2009


From the ubiquitous Wikipedia: a stall is a condition in aerodynamics and aviation where the angle of attack increases beyond a certain point such that the lift begins to decrease.

A crucial element to the discussion of a stall, however, is velocity. Technically speaking, it's somewhat less of a consideration, but since I've decided to stretch this analogy to the breaking point I'll continue to quote ubiquity:

Stalls depend only on angle of attack, not airspeed. Because a correlation with airspeed exists, however, a "stall speed" is usually used in practice. It is the speed below which the airplane cannot create enough lift to sustain the weight in 1g flight. In steady, level flight (1g), the faster an airplane goes, the less angle of attack it needs to hold the airplane up (i.e. to produce lift equal to weight). As the airplane slows down, it needs to increase angle of attack to create the same lift (equal to weight). As the speed slows further, at some point the angle of attack will be equal to the critical (stall) angle of attack. This speed is called the "stall speed". The angle of attack cannot be increased to get more lift at this point and so slowing below the stall speed will result in a descent. And so, airspeed is often used as an indirect indicator of approaching stall conditions. The stall speed will vary depending on the airplane's weight and configuration (flap setting, etc.).

How apt. No matter how you slice it, literally, I'm stalled. Preparing for my written exam has been an extremely powerful gumption sedative that's lasted for the past several months. I've gone on and on about some of the reasons why in previous posts. If nothing else the experience has instilled a renewed appreciation for pedagogy.

I started out flying with my original instructor, Regan. We had a nice rhythm to our lessons. He'd suggest a section in my video course to watch and chapters in the corresponding textbook to read, then we'd fly those lessons. Sadly, Regan left town over one year ago. Since then I've had a few other instructors which really threw the watch, read, and fly cycle off. Don't get me wrong, I've had very good teachers all the way through. But in order to retain the vast amount of information that makes up the basics of flying an airplane, much like any discipline, there needs to be reinforcement.

My brain has been throwing a temper tantrum for a while now at having to basically re-learn such a large quantity of material. So rather than study, here I am posting, whining and complaining about it. Unlike actually flying, I can pause, bitch and moan. If I'm not mistaken, this is my first official blog post as such. But consider that small quote with which I began this entry. Now imagine hundreds upon hundreds of pages of similarly crafted prose.

Ok, I'm gonna go hold my breath now until I'm blue in the face.

1 comment:

Lissa said...

Hang in there Dave! You should do some hardcore studying and consider Amsterdam the big reward. ;)