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C5 Galaxy Airplane Upset

In the summer of 1998 a USAF C-5 Galaxy stalled on approach to the atoll of Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A mechanical issue with slat extension resulted in failure of the stick-shaker system. The pilots were not warned of the impending stall, resulting in dramatic roll instability due to negative roll damping.

Regardless of size, certain underlying aerodynamic considerations affect the behavior of all aircraft in a stall. In the case depicted here, angle of attack was reduced just prior to ground impact. This resulted in regaining lateral stability, reducing drag, and allowing for the resulting recovery.

A Rare Survival from a Severe, Developed Upset Event

A C5 Galaxy on approach in Diego Garcia loses control and barely recovers at very low altitude.


    1. Hi James, You are right. In fact, the C-5 is the biggest airplane in the US Military, and at one time was the largest in the world. While what is seen in the video is not technically aerobatics, since what is depicted certainly wasn’t intentional, it shows that the basic laws of aerodynamics apply to airplanes of any size. That’s one of the reasons that smaller, all-attitude capable aerobatic aircraft can be used in training pilots of much larger aircraft. The key is using the training platform (the aerobatic training aircraft) in a way that teaches transferable aerodynamic concepts that apply to any airplane.

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