Upset Recovery Training Climbs to New Heights in TA-4 Jet

 - June 17, 2013, 1:50 PM
A TA-4 Skyhawk now provides the high-altitude training at Aviation Performance Systems.

While aviation safety experts acknowledge the need for high-altitude upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT), delivering realistic training faces a barrier since no Level-D simulators are capable of accurately reproducing high-altitude aerodynamics. No one seems willing to take a business jet to high altitude to train pilots, either.

Mesa, Ariz.-based Aviation Performance Solutions (APS) plans to address this shortcoming by offering actual high-altitude UPRT in a former military Douglas TA-4 Skyhawk two-seat single-engine jet. In partnership with CAE, APS already offers UPRT in the aerobatic Extra 300L 300-hp piston tandem two-seater and will continue to do so. APS president BJ Ransbury said the TA-4 training will supplement the Extra and RJ simulator curriculum, not replace it.

“Effective UPRT must enhance the knowledge, skills and attitudes that exist within the limited confines of today’s licensing training…as it applies to loss of control in flight,” he said. “Comprehensive UPRT needs to complement current training in a manner that is transferable, limits the risk of negative training and can be directly correlated to an unexpected upset event,” he said. When pilots face the unexpected aloft, Ransbury maintains, “They must have the fundamental knowledge and practical skills necessary to recover the airplane to controlled flight.”

The TA-4 is expected to fill the need for the hands-on training role. Flight training will take place in the voluminous airspace of the Outlaw Military Operations Area just east of APS’s Mesa base.


TA4J (or similar) training for upset and unusual attitudes is long overdue and should be mandated for today's pilots who have minimal to no skills in flight at the edge of the envelope. Most have been pushing computer buttons their entire career. Those skills are rudimentary, and easy to teach and learn. Student Naval Aviators get severe unusual attitude recovery "under the hood" in jets at a very early stage in training, in my case it began with less than 100 hrs. total time. In my opinion a check ride in this type environment should be a mandatory ride, pass/fail, before anyone can be hired by a commercial airline.

BTW, better bolt up the slats on the aircraft or you may experience jammed slats. The Marine Corps and Top Gun knew that.

Enjoy the ride. TA4 is a great little aircraft.

Jim Mago
Naval Aviator, USMC

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