In the US, in the last 50 years, have there been any accidents known to involve a student pilot intentionally practicing stalls in solo flight?

This question is asked in the context of civilian flight training in single-engine land airplanes.

I've heard of at least one flight school prohibiting student pilots from practicing stalls solo.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how a flight school could effectively bar a student from doing something solo? There's no flight recorder on most student planes. So long as you don't do it directly over the FBO, how would they ever know? $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    May 22, 2019 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ You realise that statistics won't change your flight schools procedures, right? You use their planes, you're subject to their rules. Buy your own plane, you can do what you like! With the caveat that until you have your license you're flying on someone else's. And if they dont approve you for the flight, you're not licensed. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    May 22, 2019 at 16:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @abelenky there's the NTSB (or AAIB) test. Always ask yourself: would you want what you're about to do to be documented in an accident report. "Student pilot with 35 hours was practising stall recover while flying solo in preparation for their skills test when they entered a spin and was unable to recover before.....". $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    May 22, 2019 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Jaimiec I understand that all pilots flying a rented plane are expected to follow whatever rules the owner may care to impose, and also that all student pilots must follow whatever conditions their instructor imposes, which may in turn be partly an expression of the policy of the flight of the flight school. The question is not about looking for loopholes but rather more about best practices. But, the actual stated question is just about statistics, or rather, about any occurrences of accidents. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2019 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ And for that reason, its a perfectly fine question. Just dont expect it to change anyone's mind. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    May 22, 2019 at 16:08

1 Answer 1



I did a search of the NTSB database, limiting my search to final reports with a search term of "practicing stalls." This lead to about 50 reports. I scanned the reports where the aircraft was a typical trainer, such as a Cessna 172 or Piper Cherokee. I found three reports this way that involved a solo student pilot practicing stalls. Interestingly, only one of these seems to be due to a failure to recover from the stall.

12/2/1990 A student pilot experiences engine roughness and eventual failure during stall practice. Cause: failure to apply carb heat during low power settings, leading to carb ice.

3/22/1989 A student pilot fails to recover from a stall, while practicing too low to the ground. A factor involved was the featureless, snow covered terrain that made it difficult to gauge altitude above the surface.

11/5/1982 A student pilot experiences engine failure due to a stuck valve during stall practice.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ difficult to gauge altitude above the surface oh wow..... I tend to use that little dial-y thing with the scale down one side and the numbers on it. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    May 23, 2019 at 12:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That only tells you altitude above the sea-level. Especially in rough terrain, it is worthless for telling you altitude above the surface, (unless carefully coordinated with accurate reading of a Sectional) $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    May 23, 2019 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @abelenky ...unless you're right next to the airport and the altimeter is set for QFE. $\endgroup$
    – user
    May 23, 2019 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ @aCVn Unlike in Europe, in the US we never set the altimeter to QFE. Below 18,000' it is always MSL. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    May 23, 2019 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ I guess I'm really most interested in whether there are any cases where the student spun in and crashed, or mushed down through thousands of feet of altitude and crashed, while practicing stalls at what would seem to be a prudent altitude. Or oversped/ overstressed the aircraft during recovery. And so on and so forth. But, that's not what the question states. Examples so far seem to be engine-related or involving stall practice at too-low of an altitude. $\endgroup$ May 23, 2019 at 16:07

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