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Original APS Press Release | Aerospace & Defense News Release | AVweb News | Military & Aerospace Release


bj_pilot_page_019Author: Paul “BJ” Ransbury, President
APS Emergency Maneuver Training
Part 141 Chief Flight Instructor
Master CFI-Aerobatic / CFI / CFII / MEI / AGI
Airbus A320 Pilot, F/A-18 Hornet Fighter Pilot
Cirrus Standardized Instructor
Fighter Weapons Instructor
ICAS Certified Air Show Performer


Dear Readers,

The intent of this article is to provide pilots of all skill and experience levels an opportunity to review the general concepts of the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique. The recovery is designed as a single procedure checklist to address both stalls and unusual attitudes in a wide variety of fixed wing aircraft to include general aviation, business jet and airline transport airplanes. As a checklist, its successful application is significantly improved if the pilot has completed a comprehensive upset recovery training course. As with all in-flight procedures, the pilot implementing the recovery is expected to have aircraft-specific knowledge related to their aircraft’s performance and flight characteristics.

Our mission at APS Emergency Maneuver Training is to provide pilots with a turnkey resource in the provision of expert knowledge and practical hands-on training so they can be prepared for upset recovery scenarios in the real world. This article is not intended to be a single resource that provides the reader with all the information needed to be thoroughly trained in upset recovery techniques. We do hope this article gives pilots valuable insight into the combined importance of knowledge and practical skill when faced with a high-pressure time-critical, and possibly life-threatening, flight condition.

The training provided by APS Emergency Maneuver Training is unique in that we present our training services as being directly complimentary to recovery procedures implemented in all categories of fixed-wing aircraft. An Upset Recovery Training course is of marginal value if the techniques learned and knowledge gained during training is not directly transferable back to the participating pilot’s own aircraft.

We invite all pilots to provide feedback to APS Emergency Maneuver Training using the Feedback Form at the end of the article. Enjoy …


For more than a decade APS Emergency Maneuver Training (APS) has been developing and teaching upset recovery, emergency maneuver, instrument recovery and spin recovery programs to thousands of pilots flying just about every certified fixed-wing aircraft type in existence. Keeping in touch with the growing market demand for an effective, practical, comprehensive upset recovery program has been our primary focus each and every day for over 12,000 hours of in-flight instruction. At APS Emergency Maneuver Training we are blessed with a staff of expert aviators whose experience spans the spectrum of aviation to include the US Navy, US Air Force and Canadian Armed Forces, and all having extensive professional experience flying commercial aircraft and most are experienced airline pilots. Additionally, each APS instructor has thousands of hours of aerobatic experience in both general aviation and turbojet aircraft.

The primary reason I’m starting my discussion with a background summary is to testify to the fact that the field of upset recovery training has been thoroughly investigated. There simply aren’t any secrets in what action needs to be taken to recognize, avoid and recover from unusual attitude scenarios and stalled flight conditions in every category of certified fixed-wing aircraft. Focusing this valuable information into a cockpit-friendly format is the essence of this article. Knowing “what to do” is a critical first step but is rendered useless without hands-on practical experience actually flying recoveries. Additionally, “knowing” and “doing” must be combined with an engrained pilot skill-set that can be drawn upon immediately and accurately by the pilot in an emergency situation. At APS, our team of instructors has had the unique opportunity of studying, practicing and operationally implementing upset recovery and stall procedures that are based on exhaustively researched expert guidance produced by the world’s foremost authorities, to include;

  • US / Canadian Military
  • Federal Aviation Administration / TranTMsport Canada
  • Commercial Aircraft Manufacturers
  • General Aviation Community: based on reference to published works, and personal dialogues, by highly acclaimed reputable experts such as Rich Stowell, Sammy Mason, Patty Wagstaff, Bill Kerschner and many more.

During our research we found each of the industry publications issued by the military, aircraft manufacturers and government regulating agencies to be thorough, accurate and tremendously valuable resources to pilots seeking further information on upset recovery. A short list of “must read” publications for anyone seeking expert insight into upset recovery technologies are as follows:

Professional Pilots / Commercial Pilots / Airline Pilots:

· Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid

Private / GA Pilots:

· The Light Airplane Pilots Guide to Stall/Spin Awareness

· FAA Airplane Flying Handbook

What is the All-Attitude Upset Recovery Technique?

The All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique Checklist is a logical single-procedure checklist that, when combined with proper knowledge and skill, effectively deals with wide variety of stalls, upsets, wake turbulence encounters and unusual attitudes (UAs) encountered in fixed wing aircraft.

In the process of reviewing industry guidance, it became apparent that each organization that researched and produced upset recovery procedures had developed remarkably similar procedures. These procedures addressed aerodynamic factors in pretty much the same order regardless of whether the procedure was designed to recover the aircraft from a stall or from an unusual attitude. To be clear, this statement is not meant to over-simplify upset recovery procedures. In the execution of a proper recovery there are many aerodynamic and situation factors to consider that require an in-depth understanding of the associated flight envelope and each aircraft’s unique performance characteristics. Having said that, there are fundamental elements that must be considered in a logical order to deal with each upset recovery scenario. It is the commonalities between references and complimentary logical patterns of the published recovery procedures that lead APS Emergency Maneuver Training to the development of the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique checklist (see Table 3). In short, the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique Checklist is a proven process that gives the pilot a procedure that is short, comprehensive, and most importantly, a procedure that can be easily memorized and effectively applied during an emergency flight condition. By their very nature, emergency flight conditions do not afford the pilot time to reference a complex recovery procedure displayed on the electronic checklist or as published in the aircraft’s operating instructions. As a result, pilots must have a memorized pro-active procedure available to them in a crisis.

Many of the recovery procedures detailed in training aids and aircraft operating instructions are flushed out as lengthy narratives that address each recovery individually and tend to present the pilot with a separate recovery for each of the following flight conditions:

  • Power off/on stalls
  • Accelerated stalls
  • Cross-controlled stalls
  • Vmc stalls
  • Nose low UAs
  • Nose low overbank UAs
  • Nose high UAs
  • Nose high overbank UAs
  • Wake turbulence upsets

It is true that lengthy descriptions are absolutely necessary to ensure the pilot has insight into the particulars of their aircraft related to specific flight conditions. Typically, each of the scenarios listed above demand more attention on certain stages of the recovery checklist than others. In following the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique Checklist thoroughly, combined with experience gained through a dedicated upset recovery training course, pilots understanding the risk and attention factors required for each upset scenario in their particular aircraft can effectively recover from airplane upsets when the recovery is accomplished in an accurate and timely manner. Note that the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique checklist accommodates aircraft-specific exceptions. This means that the action taken during a certain step in the checklist may require a completely different action based on the type of aircraft being recovered. Here’s an example:

Aircraft-specific Example of a Procedural Exception: In the Power-Off Stall most stall recovery procedures recommend the application of full power in the stall recovery. There are exceptions to this general guidance based on aircraft design and configuration. Exceptions to applying full power (or full thrust) in a stall situation include situations such as; Vmc (a failed engine) stall in a multi-engine aircraft, high-powered single-engine propeller aircraft where the manufacturer cautions the torque rolling effect as being excessive in slow-speed high-AOA flight conditions, and in large jet aircraft where the manufacturer may require the reduction of power in the stall recovery because of excessive nose-up moments at full power in low-speed high-AOA situations when the engines are mounted under the wing.

Needless to say, each aircraft can have characteristics that require customized attention by the pilot. It is the pilot’s job to know what these are and how they must be considered in an upset recovery scenario.


The All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique is NOT a spin recovery technique. For spin recovery training, APS continues to teach the NASA Standard Spin Recovery Technique, or P.A.R.E. Technique as coined by master flight instructor and author, Rich Stowell. For a more detailed discussion on the risk of spinning aircraft, please visit our article “Spinning Normal Category Aircraft – What’s the Risk?”

The All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique is NOT a revolutionary magic procedure that pretends to have the answer for every aircraft in every situation. It simply provides a logical process for the pilot to address the stalled and/or unusual attitude situation in an order that will maximize the pilot’s ability to recover the aircraft successfully in an environment that is typically counter-intuitive.

As with any comprehensive upset recovery training program, the course’s overall focus must rest squarely on awareness training, both on the ground and in the air, for the pilot to be able to recognize and avoid flight envelope and/or flight attitude excursions that are beyond those experienced during typical day-to-day flight operations. The FAA Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid – Revision 1 defines an aircraft upset is follows:


Pitch Attitude

· Greater than 25 degrees, nose up

· Greater than 10 degrees, nose down

Bank Angle

· Greater than 45 degrees of bank


· Within the above parameters but at airspeeds inappropriate for the conditions

Historically, upset recovery techniques and checklists have been developed to deal with three major categories of upset scenarios:

Unusual Attitudes:

In this discussion an Unusual Attitude is defined as an unstalled flight condition where pitch exceeds 25 degrees nose-up and/or 10 degrees nose-down and/or bank attitudes exceeding 45 degrees. An Unusual Attitude differs from a Stall in that an Unusual Attitude is commonly understood as being a flight condition where the wing is not at a stalled angle of attack (AOA). Certainly, an unusual attitude can be combined with a stall, however in this discussion, unusual attitudes will be considered as unstalled conditions. Rest assured, a stalled Unusual Attitude is very effectively resolved by following the All-Attitude Upset Recovery Technique checklist.

In our discussion an Unusual Attitude additionally includes any pitch or bank combination as being “unusual” if the pilot is either uncomfortable for any reason (including disorientation and/or confusion) or is presented with an adverse situation unexpectedly such as in wake turbulence encounters causing rapid changes in both pitch and bank which may or may not exceed the FAA definition of an Airplane Upset.


The stall is directly related to angle of attack and is not a function of airspeed or flight attitude. Valid recovery techniques must deal directly with the stall prior to any attempt being made to resolve the flight attitude. This is critically important, as the physics of flight beyond critical angle of attack do not, for the most part, accommodate traditional use of flight controls to affect a complete recovery. Stalls, including overbanked stalls, are comprehensively addressed by the All-Attitude Upset Recovery Technique.


A spin is not just a stall despite the fact that the only path to a developed spin is through the stall, specifically, a prolonged uncoordinated stall. A spin has significantly different characteristics than a stall – so much so, that it is considered to be a completely different flight condition. In the spin, the aircraft’s wings (both of them*) are at stalled angles of attack scribing a helical descending flight path while the aircraft is established in a stabilized yaw-driven auto-rotation that may, or may not, be recoverable. Certified aircraft designs that are flight-tested to recover from developed spins are single-engine aerobatic aircraft and some single-engine utility aircraft when flown within the proper weight and balance limitations prescribed for intentional spinning flight. A thoroughly presented upset recovery training program should detail the certification limitations related to the participating pilot’s aircraft related to spin recovery. More often than not, aircraft other than those listed above have not been certified, or even flight-tested, to recover from spins. Every reputable spin recovery training program must educate pilots on this fact and emphasize the best spin recovery is to recognize and avoid the stall before it starts. If a stall does occur, execute a proper stall recovery before yaw is allowed to couple with stalled angle of attack long enough to move the aircraft into the potentially unrecoverable developed-spin regime of flight. For a more detailed discussion on the risk of spinning aircraft, please visit our article “Spinning Normal Category Aircraft – What’s the Risk?”

* Both wings stalled in a spin is a widely accepted description of spinning flight. Following the release of this article, NASA Test Pilot James M. Patton Jr. wrote in providing expert insight that during spin testing they found that some aircraft did not necessarily always have both wings completely stalled in a stabilized spin. The Cessna 172 was an example he provided.


Until the implementation of the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique, APS Emergency Maneuver Training taught stall recovery as a distinct and separate recovery from the unusual attitude recovery. We did this as they are recoveries addressing markedly different flight conditions requiring sequential focus on successive aerodynamic factors to lead the pilot to a successful recovery.

Below is a summary of the APS recovery techniques prior to the integration of the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTMTechnique.


Stall Recovery Unusual Attitude Recovery NASA Standard Spin Recovery
Flight Conditions Flight Conditions Flight Conditions (if recoverable)
Power off/on Stall
Accelerated Stall
Cross-controlled Stalls
Slipping Stalls
Skidding Stalls
Incipient Spin
Spiral Dive
Unusual Attitudes
Wake Turbulence
Rolling Upsets
Incipient Spin
Aggravated Spins
Flat Spin
Accelerated Spins

The overall objective of an upset recovery training program should be to recognize and avoid a threatening flight condition and to immediately return the aircraft to a normal flight attitude under positive control within the operating limits of the aircraft. However, if the situation cannot be avoided due to its unintentional nature: either being a surprise (such as wake turbulence), or being created by the pilot due to inappropriate control inputs, then the pilot needs to implement a mental process integrated with a physical pro-active series of actions on the flight controls to accomplish the following recovery objectives:


  • Regain control of the aircraft if in a stalled flight condition regardless of flight attitude, then
  • Maintain control of the aircraft while taking action to correct the flight attitude, then
  • Minimize altitude loss. In most every case, this ultimately requires the aircraft to established a full-power Vy climb away from the ground prior to considering the recovery fully complete.

Proficiency in effecting successful upset recovery maneuvers is developed through the implementation of the following mental processes:


  • Immediately centralize the controls while methodically analyzing the situation
  • Expediently identify the flight condition, then
  • Sequentially apply the applicable recovery technique to effect recovery.

Pilots completing APS courses of training are provided with extensive academic training and practical instruction on the effective integration of flight envelope analysis to correctly recognize and successfully apply a methodical recovery. A core component of upset recovery training involves the deprogramming of instinctive pilot response (usually a reactionary “pull” on the control column in an attempt to bring the nose-up when over-banked or in an unrecognizable flight condition), which tends to make bad situations almost always worse. In fact, the instinctive Pull-Response is exactly the wrong thing to do when faced with a stall of any kind, an over-banked unusual attitude or any nose-high unusual attitude.


The recoveries in Table 1 are each valid and consider the proper actions to take in the proper order to deal with the related flight condition. After several days of extensive training in all-attitude all-envelope recovery training, pilots can safely identify and action the appropriate recovery.

The genesis of the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique was inspired by the need to create a single-procedure checklist that would deal with both stalls and unusual attitudes while remaining efficient, practical and effective in all categories of fixed wing aircraft, regardless of technological advancement of the aircraft.



Stall Recovery

Unusual Attitude Recovery

All-Attitude Upset Recovery

Stall Recovery

Unusual Attitude Recovery

All-Attitude Upset Recovery
* All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique Checklist

There are no mysteries to the individual steps of the all-attitude recovery, however as previously emphasized, the practical application of the technique requires a thorough academic understanding of each aircraft’s aerodynamic characteristics and responsiveness in the applicable flight regime.

The All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique Checklist is the logical combination of APS’s previously established recoveries and has been integrated in such a way that it directly compliments and complies with General Aviation, Business Aviation and Commercial Airline Training technologies. Additionally, the recovery complies with unusual attitude recovery techniques taught to military pilots, is in direct compliance with the FAA Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid – Revision 1, and also deals with the stalled flight.

  1. centralize / analyze (Recognize the Flight Condition)
  2. disconnect auto-pilot (If Equipped)
  3. recover

* Detailed Checklist Considerations
* This checklist is to organize pilot considerations in an airplane upset. It does not supersede the aircraft’s operating instructions issued by the manufacturer or established recovery procedures.

Over the course of two days, the most basic APS courses of training dedicate a minimum of six hours of ground training and three hours of flight training to instill pilot participants with the academic understanding and practical skill necessary to properly implement the fundamentals of the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique Checklist in a time-critical emergency situation


This is such an important issue in upset recovery and spin training. Due to physiological factors (such as spatial disorientation among others) and psychological factors (such as panic and shear fear, among others), this action-factor on its own highlights the critical importance of practical hands-on experience of recognizing and flying recoveries.

As we start upset recovery and/or spin training at APS, our clients seem to fall into either the instinctual-response categories of “Freeze on the controls” or “Flail on the controls”. From this shaky beginning we start the process of deprogramming instinctual responses and engraining trained responses. Neither of these instinctual responses serves to benefit effective recoveries as both can quickly lead to aggravating the situation towards an uncontrollable flight condition or massive altitude loss. Simply put: the longer the adverse flight condition proceeds, the less chance there is of a positive outcome.

Freeze on the Controls

Regrettably, the majority of upset recovery scenarios, such as cross-controlled stalls for example, are caused by the pilot mismanaging control inputs to the point where they’ve put themselves in harms way. “Freeze on the Controls” is not at all the same as “Centralize the Controls” which many pilots seem to think is what they are doing. Freezing has a tendency to perpetuate the situation and will, in the example of the cross-controlled stall as with most others, potentially lead to continuing the incipient spin (aggravated stall in yaw), developing the condition into a spin or, at best, an over-banked nose-low spiraling flight condition. Combined with a low altitude scenario, life-saving recovery proficiency mandates moving to “immediate correct action” almost instantly. Rarely does “Freeze on the Controls” result in anything beneficial.
Fix: Practical training.

Flail on the Controls

Unless overcome by Spatial Disorientation (SD) or panic leading to “Freeze on the Controls”, most pilots are aware that immediate action is required to implement an effective and timely recovery. The problem with that particular uneducated philosophy is that they missed a critical component of the “Immediacy of Correct Action”. Clearly the missed component is “CORRECT” action. No amount of study or academic knowledge prepares a pilot for the practical procedure of effectively recovering an aircraft. To be clear, academic knowledge is extremely important but it’s only part of the full equation.
Fix: Practical training complemented by extensive Correct academic preparation.

The importance of immediate correct action is one of primary reasons why APS moved away from having three separate recovery procedures for stall, unusual attitudes and spin recoveries. Although each of the three recoveries were effective, we found the process for pilots to recognize the flight condition, make a decision on which recovery to use and then take recovery action could unnecessarily delay the implementation of the recovery. With proper training at APS, the All-Attitude Upset Recovery procedure eliminates the one step of deciding on whether to use a stall recovery or an unusual attitude recovery shortening the recovery process. Understandably, pilots who haven’t attended an APS course take a look at the All-Attitude Upset Recovery checklist and get the impression that the recovery procedure is long process. That is absolutely not the case at all. It simply includes the mental process of analyzing the situation to recognize the flight condition prior to taking immediate “correct” action.

In summary of this section, Immediacy of Correct Action is a far cry from Immediate Action or No Action. Regardless of the recovery procedure used the pilot must be trained on flight condition recognition and this doesn’t come easily for most pilots. After several days of training, the average pilot realizes that the process of recognition, SD self-evaluation, disconnecting the auto-pilot if equipped and initiating the physical action steps of the recovery should ideally occur the instant the adverse flight condition is noticed. Action without accurate flight condition recognition can be disastrous. To further emphasize “Correct” action, we teach pilots in the recovery steps to program themselves to consciously take action during the recovery using what we call the Say & Do Method where they mechanically state the procedural step and immediately move the control surface to accomplish the action based on the particular flight condition. The Say & Do Method is tremendously successful in breaking the pilot out of the instinctual inappropriate mental defense mechanisms of either “Freeze on the Controls” or “Flail on the Controls”. This method, combined with proper training and practice, forces a successful recovery while simultaneously programming desired trained responses.

Detailing the Steps of the All-Attitude Upset Recovery Technique Checklist

The listing below is an outline highlighting the meaning and importance of each step of the recovery in relation to various recovery scenarios. This detailing is “food for thought” and is not intended to be all-inclusive nor is it an attempt to provide all solutions for all aircraft in all situations.

    • Recognize the flight condition
      · It is important to determine the aircraft’s flight envelope status, flight attitude and the pilot’s state of mind.
      · Auto-Pilot Engaged: leave the autopilot engaged and immediately move to ANALYZE
      · Hand Flying or No Auto-Pilot: centralize all the flight controls and move to ANALYZE
      · As the pilot in command, assess your mental state to determine if you are disoriented and if that disorientation is combined with an undesirable flight attitude or flight condition.
  1. If, for example, the pilot determines that he/she is suffering from misleading “seat of the pants” spatial disorientation but the analysis of the flight parameters reveals the aircraft is in a normal flight attitude, then the pilot’s primary objective should be to establish visual dominance to suppress vestibular “seat of the pants” misdirection while keeping the aircraft under control.
  2. However, if the pilot determines that the aircraft is in an unusual attitude or stalled flight condition, regardless of his or her disoriented status, then they must establish visual dominance and continue with the recovery. In a multi-crew situation, consideration should be given to passing control to the other pilot under the assumption the other crew member is not also disoriented
  • AM I STALLED? – Assess aircraft response. A stall can be identified by any of the following:i. Significant airframe and/or control surface buffet at speeds below Vaii. Lack of, or Reversal of, Pitch Authorityiii. Lack of, or Reversal of, Roll Authorityiv. Continuous aural or visual stall warning
  • AM I IN AN UNUSUAL ATTITUDE? – Evaluate primary data to determine flight attitude:i. Nose High
    1. 1. Altitude Increasing
    2. 2. Airspeed Decreasing

    ii. Nose Low

    1. 1. Altitude Decreasing
    2. 2. Airspeed Increasing
  • DISCONNECT: Auto-Pilot and Auto-Throttles (if equipped)
    1. RECOVER: Verbalize and Sequentially Apply the Recovery:
      • “PUSH”
        Push forward on the control column while physically over-riding any opposing trim forces while confirming the Autopilot has been disconnected (if equipped). Regardless of the recovery being implemented, it is very important that the pilot not unload the aircraft to zero or negative G at any point during the recovery. Geometrically speaking, a push to zero or negative G does have some benefit in reducing dive angle during an overbanked nose low recovery, however, the practical consequences of potentially starving the engine(s) of fuel leading to an engine failure, as well as the adverse impact on passengers and cargo, is considered over riding. In consideration of all factors related to the safe and effective recovery of the aircraft, a positive G loading of ¼ to ½ G is considered ideal while keeping the wing at low angle of attack when bank angle is above 45 degrees. Note that the unloaded flight condition should remain until the final “CLIMB” step of the checklist is initiated.It is important to note that the pilot should not confuse the “push” as direction to bury the nose towards the ground in a low-altitude close-to-wings-level stall or go-around. In the traditional approach-to-landing stall or power-off stall when the bank angle is not extreme (less than 45 degrees), the pilot should only push (unload) enough to ensure the angle of attack is below critical yet optimizing lift to minimize altitude loss.


i. Stall

1. Aggressively unload the aircraft through a purposeful “Push” straightforward on the control column to reduce the angle (AOA) of attack of the wing to below critical AOA. The amount of elevator movement and control pressure may vary from a simple release of control column pressure to a distinct push of 20-30 lbs or more in a nose-high autopilot trimmed power-on stall condition in a transport category aircraft. In a stall where the wings are close to level (less than 45 degrees), the angle of attack should only be reduced enough to get out of the stall yet not so much so as to unnecessarily induce a significant amount of altitude loss.ii. Unusual Attitude

  1. 1. Nose-Low & Nose-Low Overbank
    Push forward on the control column to reduce G-loading. If over-banked, the aircraft should be unloaded to approximately ¼ to ½ positive G loading. The benefits when overbanked are:
  1. Minimizes asymmetric loading
  2. Optimizes roll rate to minimize the amount of time the aircraft is in an overbank flight attitude, and
  3. Minimizes the resulting dive angle, which directly affects airspeed gain and the altitude loss in the dive recovery.
  • Nose-High & Nose-High Overbank
    Push forward on the control column to establish a g-loading of ¼ to ½ positive Gs. The benefits are:


  1. Protects from the nose-high stall by expanding the flight envelope
  2. Reduces drag by keeping a higher airspeed on the aircraft throughout the maneuver thus allowing more controllability
  3. Increases aileron effectiveness
  • “POWER”
    Physically over-ride any opposing throttle resistance while confirming the Auto-throttle has been disconnected (if equipped). The selection of power setting is outlined below.
  • Stall
    1. In a stall recovery, the power is typically selected to full power with some exceptions that are discussed in detail during upset recovery ground training
  • Unusual AttitudePower selection in an usual attitude is based on current or anticipated airspeed during the recovery in relation to Va. This action step is to increase controllability nose high (unless prohibited by the flight manual) and to minimize altitude loss nose low. A generalized rule of thumb is; nose-up power-up, nose-down power-down. There are several exceptions to this general rule that are taught during the course.
    1. Nose High & Nose High Overbank
      • Select full power to keep as much airspeed as possible unless prohibited by the specific aircraft’s flight manual. Combined with the aircraft being unloaded to minimize drag, full power/thrust will maximize the kinetic energy state of aircraft and improve controllability in the “Roll” step later in the recovery.
    2. Nose Low & Nose Low Overbank
      • Power to idle unless well below Va (such as a stall recovery) and there no risk of exceeding Va during the ensuing dive.
      • If above Va, or there is a risk of exceeding Va during the dive recovery, consideration should also be given to the use of speed brakes and/or spoilers to minimize airspeed gain above Va. Minimizing airspeed gain above Va will have a dramatic effect on minimizing the turn radius during the dive recovery. In a wings-level dive recovery, turn radius is directly related to the resulting altitude loss.
  • “RUDDER”
    In all recoveries, if applicable to your aircraft type, apply a firm single application of rudder to cancel yaw to attain coordinated flight or, if the aircraft still stalled at this point, to visually arrest the yaw/roll couple to minimize the risk of a spin. It is important to emphasize that rudder is NOT used to roll the aircraft unless judiciously and properly combined with aileron input in the “ROLL” step (next). This recovery DOES NOT advocate the “Step on the Sky” technique as it unnecessarily uncoordinates the aircraft, significantly increases drag, may overstress the rudder assembly (especially when above Va and/or the rudder is cycled) and has marginal secondary roll response in comparison the proper use of aileron as detailed in the next step.NOTE: “Inappropriate over-use of rudder” not “under-use of rudder” is a widespread common error during skill development in upset recovery training. This is especially prevalent in pilots operating business class and transport category aircraft.
  • “ROLL”
    Now that the aircraft has been successfully recovered from the stall and configured properly to increase recovery performance (as accomplished by following PUSH – POWER – RUDDER), the pilot must use ailerons to roll the aircraft’s lift vector to the desired attitude:
  1. Still stalled? You shouldn’t be:
    1. Prior to initiating the “Roll” step, the aircraft must be recovered from the stall. A very common error is for pilot to have not properly reduced the angle of attack in the earlier “Push” step resulting in the aircraft remaining in the stall. If at this stage of the recovery the aircraft is still at stalled angle of attack the pilot has most likely instinctively pulled back on the control column. The only recourse is to restart the procedure at the “Push” step.
    2. Warning: Time is of the essence. If the pilot has been randomly moving the flight controls instinctively and not strictly following the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique Checklist in a timely manner, there is a possibility that the aircraft has transitioned through the aggravated-stall / incipient-spin phase into a developed spin. If so, the pilot should take the appropriate actions for spin recovery as stated in the aircraft operating instructions or, lacking a published spin recovery, apply the NASA Standard Spin Recovery as outlined in Table 4. Unfortunately, recovery from the developed spin may or may not be possible.
  2. Unusual Attitudes
    1. Nose High & Nose High Overbank
      1. When in an unusual attitude nose-up greater than 25 degrees it is recommended to roll the aircraft to a flight attitude of 45 – 60 degrees of bank to get the nose of the aircraft back to the horizon. By keeping the aircraft unloaded below critical angle of attack during the nose-high roll, the aircraft will be protected from the stall, be at an AOA that increases aileron effectiveness and be subjected to less drag thus keeping higher kinetic energy (airspeed) on the aircraft. Additionally, the unloaded roll to 45 – 60 degrees of bank orients the aircraft’s lift vector in a manner that significantly reduces the vertical component of lift allowing the nose to move towards the horizon sooner while maximizing controllability.
      2. As the nose passes the horizon in the 45 – 60 bank in a low AOA flight condition, the pilot can initiate a roll to wings level while keeping the aircraft unloaded. Prior to proceeding to the “Climb” step, the pilot must crosscheck the airspeed to ensure airspeed is increasing above the basic stall speed prior to increasing angle of attack to effect recovery
      3. Nose Low & Nose Low Overbank
        1. The lift vector must be immediately rolled to a wings-level flight attitude. In situations where the aircraft flight attitude is beyond 90 degrees of bank, this can be ambiguous. In nose low overbanks beyond 90 degrees of bank, the lift vector must be rolled in the direction of nearest horizon through to a wings level flight attitude while keeping the aircraft unloaded at low angle of attack under positive G. Up to full control deflection must be initiated to achieve the desired wings level flight attitude in minimum time.
        2. The steps of the All-Attitude Upset RecoveryTM Technique leading to the “Roll” step have prepared the aircraft for optimum recovery. The unloaded flight condition is particularly important when the aircraft is overbanked. As previously detailed, the unloaded roll has the following benefits in an overbank recovery scenario:
          1. Minimizes asymmetric loading
          2. Optimizes roll rate to minimize the amount of time the aircraft is in an overbank flight attitude, and
          3. Minimizes the resulting dive angle, which directly affects airspeed gain and the altitude loss in the dive recovery.
    2. “CLIMB”
      i. With the lift vector oriented in a wings-level flight attitude (within 30 degrees of level is the maximum error tolerance), the pilot should now initiate an aggressive pull on the control column to attain a climbing Vy pitch attitude. Pilots must necessarily manage AOA-onset to avoid the secondary stall when below Va and manage G-onset to avoid exceeding the aircraft’s limit-load when above Va.ii. Note that pulling on the control column is the LAST step in a proper recovery whereas the most common error in upset recovery is a pilot’s instinctive, and immediate, “pull response” as the first first step.The bold face quotations should be announced verbally by the Pilot Flying (PF) while th
    3. The bold face quotations should be announced verbally by the Pilot Flying (PF) while the PF immediately takes physical action to accomplish the verbally indicated stage of the recovery.


The key to being properly prepared to deal with an aircraft upset is no different than any other specialized flying skill; study, instruction, understanding, integration, application, error analysis and practice, practice, practice. In our experience, pilots with average piloting ability typically require two days to develop a safe level of fundamental All-Attitude Recovery skill and an additional day or two of dedicated upset recovery training to attain a safe level of proficiency in upset recovery techniques to deal with any recoverable upset situation in both VMC and IMC conditions. For a full course, pilots should plan on three to four days of full-time training during their initial upset recovery program.

For pilots seeking comprehensive upset recovery training we recommend the following programs:

VFR Private, Recreational or Sport Pilot:

· 2-Day 3-Mission Upset Recovery Training
· 3-Day 5-Mission Emergency Maneuver Training

Professional Pilot or Private Pilot with an Instrument Rating:

· 3-Day 5-Mission Professional Pilot Upset Recovery Training
· 4-Day 6-Mission Enhanced Emergency Maneuver Training

Table 4 below outlines the recovery procedures and flight conditions investigated and taught during training courses delivered at APS Emergency Maneuver Training.

(Download Recovery Summary in PDF – 87 KB)

All-Attitude Upset Recovery
NASA Standard Spin Recovery










Flight Conditions Flight Conditions (if recoverable)
Power off/on StallAccelerated Stall
Cross-controlled Stalls
Slipping Stalls
Skidding Stalls
Incipient Spin
Spiral Dive
Unusual Attitudes
Wake Turbulence
Rolling Upsets
Spin (upright or inverted)Incipient SpinAggravated SpinsFlat SpinAccelerated Spins

It is clear that knowledge must be combined with practical experience and study. At APS Emergency Maneuver Training we customize each training flight to be practically applicable to the participating pilot’s particular category of aircraft and experience level. Completing any of our multi-day courses of training will provide each pilot with the confidence, knowledge and practical skill to recognize, avoid and, when necessary, maximize their ability to recover from airplane upsets.

In addition to being some of the very best safety training available to pilots, upset recovery training should be fun and educational. Having fun while learning significantly increases the potential for rapid learning and the integration of knowledge and skills that may be needed someday in a time-critical emergency situation requiring immediate action to save lives. Be prepared.

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  • Posted by chuck moore on December 16, 2009, 1:09 pm

    Hi, under ‘Power’, you don’t say what to do with it. You explain the reasons for unloading the wing?

    Reply →
    • Posted by pransbury on December 19, 2009, 3:27 am
      in reply to chuck moore

      Hi Chuck,

      That is interesting. We just converted our site to a new format (it came online a few weeks ago) and it appears the content was not transferred perfectly for this page. I will have time to review this entire article in the next few days and update that particular section. I’ll post another reply when it’s been reviewed and updated.

      Paul BJ Ransbury

      Reply →
  • Posted by pransbury on December 19, 2009, 12:29 pm

    The “Power” section has been updated. I will also have the page reloaded from the original article to touch-up the formatting and correct any other transfer errors during the site conversion.

    Reply →
  • Posted by Serhio on May 22, 2014, 4:21 am

    Dear Paul !

    The technique ,You’ve explained,
    is very useful and easy to use.
    But could You explain me some thin moments :
    1."Rudder" You say "apply a firm single application of rudder to cancel the yaw" it’s all clear,but what direction should I apply ? Opposite of banking or just use technique "Step on the Ball" ?
    2."Power " in case of underwing-mounted engines,should I reduce thrust in both cases (I mean "Nose-high"/"Nose-low" or just when aircraft in "Nose-high wing level"position.Because You say "rule of thumb is nose-up power-up,nose-down power-down"
    I know I’m asking a lot of,but I’m going to be a captain in a couple of months and want myself to be perfect.
    You advice would be very valuable for me.

    Warm regards Serhio.

    Reply →

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