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Tail stall: pitch up?

Am I reading Rick Durden's article on ice/tail stalls correctly? You're on approach with a big load of ice, you are not far above the stall speed due to both the approach speed and the increased stall speed and you have a tail stall and pitch up and reduce power? Any airplane I have flown would seem to immediately stall all together. This can't be correct.

David W. Alger

Lago Vista, TX

You've essentially got it right but for one thing: Approaches should not be flown right at the edge of (main wing) stall speed in any conditions. You should have a good margin.

Few pilots need an airspeed indicator to tell them when they're getting on the edge of a main-wing stall. You should be able to tell. The airframe buffet and lighter/sloppier controls are dead giveaways. Got a little ice? Plan a little more speed. Got a lot of ice? Plan a lot more speed. Feeling an incipient stall with a load of ice? Add a bunch of power and at least 10-20 knots. But, if you do stall, you obviously pitch down and add power--which also may not have a pleasing outcome when close to the ground.

At speeds near max flap extension in ice, the risk is stalling the tail if the flaps are extended. Tail stalls are almost always coincident with increasing the amount of flap extension. Flap extension increases the angle of attack of the tail, especially at the higher speeds necessary for an iced-up main wing. Increasing power also increases the angle of attack of the tail.

Warning of an incipient tail stall is buffet in the yoke--not airframe--difficulty in trimming in pitch and ease in moving the yoke forward, but difficulty in pulling it aft. Recovery is the opposite of a wing stall--pull aft to reduce the angle of attack of the tail and retract the flaps at least to the previous (non-tail-stalled) setting and reduce power if possible. Yes, it all sounds counterintuitive, thanks in part to inadequate training, but that is how to recover from a tail stall.

Is this potentially dangerous or deadly? Yup, you betcha--just like a main wing stall on approach. But, given that you've stalled anything close to the ground, you have limited options in the first place. What else ya gonna do?

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Title Annotation:READBACK
Author:Alger, David W.
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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