Ban low-speed flying "phobia" -- insights from John King for COPA Pilots - Pull early, pull often! - Safety and Training Programs - Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association

Ban low-speed flying "phobia" -- insights from John King for COPA Pilots

Ban low-speed flying "phobia" -- insights from John King for COPA Pilots

As I posted in a separate thread about the SAFE symposium (see COPA participation in SAFE GA pilot training reform symposium), John King presented some counter-intuitive solutions to create a sea-change in the culture of aviation.

One applies to COPA Pilots: Ban low-speed flying "phobia"

As COPA members have discussed for years, Cirrus instructors have often taught COPA Pilots to land too fast.  The fear of tail strikes seems to have put the fear of landing too slow in way too many pilots. 

So, our community has this "phobia" that John talks about. Furthermore, this is timely because of the discussion of the Cory Lidle accident that involved a high-speed narrow-canyon turn.

Here are John King's slides (posted with permission):

Ban low airspeed phobia

  • One-third of all fatalities come from stalls/spins while maneuvering
  • So therefore we should tell pilots to slow down when maneuvering

Most people think

  • Stall/spin accidents come from flying too slow

Let's consider

That they may be caused by flying too fast

An imminent stall caused by flying too slow

  • Is easy to recognize
  • The controls get mushy
  • The air noise decreases
  • The airplane buffets well in advance

A stall caused by an
increase in load factor

  • Gives much less warning
  • The controls aren't mushy
  • The air noise is still at the usual level
  • The buffet gives little if any warning

Flight instructors are afraid
their students will stall

  • Therefore they have them fly too fast

The result is

  • Huge patterns
  • Steeper banks
  • More load factor

Radius of turn versus airspeed

Bank Angle vs Airspeed


What surprised me was the consequences of flying too fast in the traffic pattern.  Sure, we have debated the landing speeds being too high.  But wow, the impact on load factor and stall speed in a high-speed base-to-final turn may well be a crucial insight into several Cirrus fatal accidents: Phoenix, AZ; Waxhaw, NC; New Windsor, NY; Lindsay, OK; Statesville, NC; Edgewater, MD; Zurich, Switzerland; Tuscaloosa, AL; and of course, Manhattan, NY, the Cory Lidle accident.  Could flying too fast while maneuvering be a common factor here?

COPA Pilots, take note!  Go up with an experienced Cirrus instructor and explore the differences between stalls in turns at different airspeeds.  I'm going to chat with the CPPP instructors about this and probably encourage them to add it to the CPPP recurrent training experience.

Ban low-speed flying "phobia"

What a simple, yet possibly very important piece of advice for COPA Pilots.



  • Great advise and great reading. John King is really the master of aviation.  

  • Very enlightening. This will help me avoid operating under false assumptions in the pattern. Thank you.


  • Makes sense.