I'm trying to find a suitable aircraft to get my spin endorsement for my CFI rating but am running into trouble with most aerobatic aircraft due to my height (too tall).

My last thought is that I could use a 172 in the utility category (I already know I fit in one and can have full control authority - I can get my legs under the dash to reach the pedals and my knees don't block the yoke).

It looks like 14 CFR 91.307(d) says I wouldn't need a parachute since I'm doing this with a flight instructor for training for a certificate.

In Section 2 of the 1978 Cessna 172N POH under the heading Utility Category (page 2-7), it says

This airplane is not designed for purely aerobatic flight. However, in the acquisition of various certificates such as commercial pilot and flight instructor, certain maneuvers are required by the FAA. All of these maneuvers are permitted in this airplane when operated in the utility category.

Provided I am operating the aircraft in the Utility category (CG within limits and Weight 2000 lbs. or less), is there any reason I couldn't use a Cessna 172 to obtain my spin endorsement?

(I know that the gyro in the Attitude Indicator can tumble - I'm not sure how to get around that if I can't cage it - but is it really harmful? I've heard this is one of those perpetual aviation myths - that it doesn't really cause damage, it just takes time to reset)

Cessna 172 CG Limits

  • $\begingroup$ I can see where a Decathlon or a Pitts might be a tight fit, but what about an Extra? They're pretty roomy. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2016 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ @DanPichelman I was told that people 6'4" often have a hard time fitting in the Extra (closing the canopy) - I'm 6'9". $\endgroup$
    – Canuk
    Sep 23, 2016 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ You're 6'9" and you can fit into a CE-172 as well? $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2016 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloFelicione yep, as long as the seat goes down and up! Also, you get to really know your CFI :) (Although the 182 is much more comfortable). Also, no problem seeing over the nose on climb-out! $\endgroup$
    – Canuk
    Sep 23, 2016 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Don’t know if I’m too late but I too had the same issue with height and weight. I was recommended to do my spin training in a Stearman. 300lbs+ and 6ft tall, I accepted. I found an aerobatic school called “biplane fun” in Compton California to receive my endorsement. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2023 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


Provided you meet ALL of the requirements for utility category operation as spelled out in the POH (within W&B limits for the utility envelope, no aft passengers, empty baggage compartment, and anything else you may find in the Limitations and W&B sections of your POH) a Cessna 172 is approved for intentional spins, and may be used for spin training.

As to the gyro instruments, spinning MAY cause the gyro instruments to tumble. This is not good for the instrument (it beats up the bearings - do it too much and you'll wind up with an early gyro overhaul).
Newer vacuum gyros tend to be more resilient than the old ones that birthed the "Don't let the gyros tumble" rule of thumb - they'll tolerate more extreme angles without tumbling - so there's less of a need to worry about damaging them in spin training.
(Solid-State gyros obviously won't suffer damage as they have no gimbals and bearings to beat up. They may however become "confused" and go offline if they sense something they're not designed for.)

As a note, I would not do spin training in a Cessna 172 (or any other typical trainer where spins are only authorized within the utility envelope) that hasn't had a recent physical weighing, unless your operating weight and balance range is squarely in the middle of the utility envelope.

A plane with many years of "computed" W&B updates may in fact weigh 100lbs more (or, rarely, less) than the weight and balance sheets indicate, and the empty center of gravity could vary by an inch or more.

If you are going to be performing intentional spins it behooves you to ensure that you're actually operating within the envelope for which recovery has been tested.


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