In the upcoming movie Flight, starring Denzel Washington, the only way the captain can save everyone aboard his crippled airliner is to complete an aileron roll just before bellying it in. Sure the story is pure Hollywood hokum, but there have been a number of accidents where pilots, faced with unusual attitude or control situations, reacted either incorrectly or too slowly to save their aircraft. And, unfortunately, life didn’t imitate art.
“The average corporate pilot’s comfort level is 30 degrees nose up, 20 degrees nose down and 60 degrees of bank. Anything outside those boundaries can be totally new territory for them,” explained Stallion 51 president Lee Lauderback. “Allowing pilots to experience unusual attitudes and control situations while identifying the proper recovery techniques is something we’ve been doing with our TF-51 Mustang for a long time.”
Lauderback knows what he’s talking about. His 40-year career includes 17 years flying jets and helicopters for Arnold Palmer and another 8,000-plus hours in the Mustang at Stallion 51. That, along with seeing corporate pilots get flummoxed in the back of his Mustang, led him to develop Stallion 51’s new upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) program and branch out with the new company, UAT.
“UPRT is what our new program is all about,” he said. “It’s a blending of ground school and actual flight training. Outside of our program, only military pilots get this type and depth of training in all the different aspects of unusual attitudes and upsets.
“Dr. William Busch, senior AME and retired Navy flight surgeon, teaches our aeromedical course,” Lauderback said. “A lot of false sensations end up creating an unusual attitude situation that may not exist or may lead to an inappropriate recovery. Pilots need to understand the ramifications. In addition, understanding the aerodynamics of unusual attitude recoveries is very important.”
The UPRT’s IFR program is done in a customized Aero L-39 Albatros single-engine jet updated with Garmin G500 avionics in the front and rear cockpits. While the G500 is meant to deliver familiar visuals to pilots used to flying with modern glass cockpits, the training regimen is anything but. Lauderback can close a curtain that totally obscures the rear cockpit, with no way to see out.
The aircraft is also equipped with two in-cockpit cameras and one on the vertical stabilizer. “There’s a real training value to letting a guy do it wrong and then going back and reviewing the video and saying, ‘Okay, here’s what you did and this is what you should have done,’” he said. “Put a guy in there with the nose 30 degrees down and the airplane mostly on its back and see what he does. They usually pull the airplane into a vertical dive.
“You are going to lose 6,000 feet of altitude and pull four to five g. That will make an everlasting impression on the rest of his flying career of what not to do,” Lauderback said. “We don’t cut any corners. We don’t stop at the first sign of a stall. We go all the way through normal, deep and accelerated stalls. That’s the kind of experience and reinforcement pilots need to stay safe.”
For more information on Stallion 51’s UPRT program and UAT, stop by Booth No. 3731.