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Other than in training/practice and some landings, do pilots ever intentionally stall?

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Not a large group, but Functional Check Flight pilots will typically perform a series of stalls in an airplane in various configurations before initial delivery and after major maintenance. If it stalls at other than the expected speeds, or if one wing stalls before the other, adjustments are made and the FCF is repeated.

Stalls are just one of many, many things that get checked before initial delivery; how much gets checked after major maintenance depends on what was changed out.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I recall a DC-8 crash over West Virginia where they were doing this. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2023 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @PresidentJamesK.Polk That's entirely possible (though probably not during your term in office). FCF's are performed on aircraft that are supposed to be all fixed, but sometimes aren't, and so they do have an element of risk to them above what would be accepted in normal airline flying. That risk is partially offset by having specially trained pilots performing them, and of course not having passengers on board, but turning off systems, shutting down & restarting engines, performing stalls, and so on will always entail some amount of risk beyond the norm. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    May 29, 2023 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ Here is the NTSB report. Elsewhere I found that the pilot flying was Captain Lemming, a very unfortunate name for a pilot. Another bizarre one-in-billion: The sister of one of the fatalities on the flight was killed in another plane crash going to his funeral. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2023 at 20:25
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Lots of pilots do stalls for fun, practice, something to do, whatever, and if the plane is certified for spins, those too. In Canada, spins are part of basic pilot training.

The main safety issue with doing stalls is altitude. You want to be at least 3000 ft agl, in airspace that isn't controlled, or crowded, and after checking for airplanes below you. There are various precautions.

Most aircraft can be stalled, then cross your arms and do nothing, and it will more or less recover on its own (you'll have to intervene to manage the dive as it recovers). In fact most airplanes will recover from spins on their own if you just take your hands off the controls after the spin starts.

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    $\begingroup$ Gliders can recover from stalls even quicker, sometimes in as little as 50 meters (although it's best to have a lot more reserve). And gliders often fly pretty close to their stall speeds anyway when in a really tight thermal. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    May 29, 2023 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I done hours of thermalling in a 1-26, where you thermal right down in the pre-stall buffet. Some of the high performance stuff is a bit less forgiving tho and I avoid flying directly below them in thermals. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    May 29, 2023 at 12:11
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Other than what your question includes, (e.g., training/practice), unless you're doing aerobatics (snap-rolls, spins etc.) or meeting the spin requirements to be a CFI (U.S. regulations), I don't think pilots often intentionally do full stalls.

There may be some who do full stalls for fun, but likely not many.

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    $\begingroup$ How would doing stalls for fun impact safety? Would it be unnecessarily dangerous, or could it possibly improve safety by keeping the pilot more familiar with stall recovery than most? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    May 28, 2023 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Someone - you wouldn't want to try stalls 'for fun' in a rear engine T-tailed aircraft unless you really know what you're doing. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2023 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHarvey is that because of the risk of a deep stall? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    May 29, 2023 at 17:33

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