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Part II — The Ground and Air Instruction Syllabus — Exercise 24 — Instrument Flying

Unusual Attitudes


To teach, using instrument reference, how to:

(1)  Recognize unusual attitudes;

(2)  Act promptly and correctly for recovery.


Unusual attitudes can lead to dangerous situations from which prompt and correct recovery action is necessary.

Essential Background Knowledge

(1)  Define unusual flight attitudes. Explain that the pilot must assume that an unusual attitude exists if the instrument indications are abnormal in any way.

(2)  Explain that misuse of controls, incorrect scan technique, turbulence, incorrect trim, or inattention may cause the aircraft to fly outside the normal range of flight attitudes.

(3)  Explain that relying on the indications of an unserviceable instrument can lead to an unusual attitude.

(4)  Explain the limitations of the gyroscopic instruments and point out how these limitations may be exceeded during unusual attitudes.

(5)  Explain how the failure or unreliability of the gyroscopic instruments may require the pilot to use partial panel while recovering from an unusual attitude.

(6)  Emphasize the need for the pilot to trust the instrument indications rather than physical sensations.

(7)  Explain the importance of observing the trend of the airspeed indicator and altimeter to determine if the nose is high or low.

(8)  Explain the need to check the turn needle to determine if the aircraft is turning.

(9)  Point out that when the pitch attitude is approximately level the airspeed needle will stop its movement and begin to reverse its movement. The altimeter needle will stop its movement and the vertical speed indicator will reverse its trend at approximately the same time, however the latter two indications are less reliable than the airspeed indicator.

(10)  Explain that, during recovery, the wings will be approximately level when the turn needle is centred.

(11)  Explain the need to ensure that the attitude indicator is reliable before using it for attitude reference.

(12)  Ensure that the student knows the following recovery procedures:

  1. Nose Low:
  1. reduce power to prevent excessive airspeed and loss of altitude;
  2. level the wings by applying co-ordinated aileron and rudder pressures to centre the needle and ball;
  3. apply elevator pressure to correct the pitch attitude to level flight.

B. Nose High:

  1. apply power;
  2. apply forward elevator pressure to lower the nose to prevent a stall;
  3. correct the bank by applying co-ordinated aileron and rudder pressure to centre the turn needle and ball.

(13)  Point out that it may be necessary to descend or climb to a safe altitude after the aircraft is again under control.

(14)  Explain that in a spin the turn needle gives a reliable indication of the spin direction but the ball gives no reliable direction information.

(15)  Explain how to recognize and recover from:

  1. Nose-high attitudes;
  2. Nose-high attitudes while banked;
  3. Nose-low attitudes;
  4. Nose-low attitudes while banked.

(16)  Apply the above procedures to recognize and recover from:

  1. Stalls;
  2. Spins;
  3. Spiral dives.

Advice To Instructors

(1)  When spins are demonstrated or practised, the instructor must ensure that the aircraft is appropriately certificated and that all published limitations and restrictions are adhered to.

(2)  Because gyroscopic instruments may become inoperative or misleading under extreme conditions, emphasize the need to cross check the instruments to verify the information from the gyroscopic instruments.

(3)  Demonstrate how to recover from each unusual attitude visually before having the student use a view-limiting device.

(4)  Begin by having the student recover from small errors in pitch and bank. After the basic techniques are mastered, increase the extent of the unusual attitudes.

(5)  Watch for signs of airsickness. Students often get airsick more easily when using view-limiting devices.

(6)  Recover from spiral dives early enough to avoid high airspeeds. Using a low entry speed will allow the student more time for recognition and recovery and it will allow you more time to determine that your intervention is needed.

(7)  Point out that recovering from stalls, spins, and spiral dives uses the same control inputs under instrument conditions as in visual flight. Have the student practise recovering from the same type of unusual attitude several times before you introduce a new one.

(8)  While the student is practising, watch for the possibility of overstressing the aircraft.

(9)  While the student is practising unusual attitude recoveries using full panel, confirm the serviceability of the attitude indicator and heading indicator before relying upon these instruments.

Instruction and Student Practice

(1)  Demonstrate how to recover using the procedures outlined in Essential Background Knowledge.

(2)  Have the student recover, using instrument reference, from unusual attitudes using full panel. Repeat the exercise using partial panel.