People like to get this endorsement out of the way, but we ask you to wait until your CFI training is well in progress. We're not here to teach you how to teach, or even spin theory- that's what you learn from your principal instructor. Our primary job is to give you the opportunity to experience intentional spins and recoveries in an airplane and relate them to your knowledge. From what we understand, most failures in the CFI Initial checkride relating to spins are during the ground session- they haven't flown yet. So we'll do our best to prevent that, but you're there to fly and it's an expansive topic. You and your recommending instructor have primary responsibility to ensure your background knowledge and teaching skills in this area and related topics are adequate.
We'll first ask you to give a brief "elevator ride sales pitch" on spins. That is, a crisp summary of what a spin is, how it develops, recovery procedure, and how they're done intentionally and when they occur unintentionally. If you've been working on teaching, you know this concise summary is actually pretty hard to do- practice it! And yes it'll take longer than an actual elevator ride. We'll then go back through that and talk about various points in more detail, depending on how detailed your initial presentation is.
You should show up ready to present that, fully versed in the details behind it, and have reviewed the CFI PTS, XI Task G Spins, and Draft ACS, XI Task H Spin Awareness and Spins. The draft ACS references the Commercial Pilot ACS, VII Task E Spin Awareness, so look at that also.
Probably after a break (suggest bringing a light lunch, see "Other Stuff" page), we'll discuss what our flight agenda will be, have an orientation to the aircraft and safety procedures, and go flying.
The flight will involve some airwork first to give you a feel for the airplane and use its ability to easily perform maneuvers that your normal Cessna/Piper cannot. This may include adverse yaw, MCA, power-off stalls, maintained stalls (a.k.a. "parachuting" or sometimes "falling leaf"), and some exercises in steep banks such as wingovers. We'll then get into the heart of it-- several 1-turn entry/incipient spins. We'll talk you through the first, then you practice talking us through them. If you're still feeling comfortable, we'll aim for at least one 4-turn spin at the end. That's usually it for most people.
The absolute minimum flight tasks require at least a 4,000' ceiling. Good visibility helps a lot. For a good session, we need an 8,000' ceiling for multi-turn spins. A typical session is going to be at least $500- no promises- so you really want to get the most out of it.
Our standard "Unusual Attitudes" course is just that- getting you more comfortable at the edges of the flight envelope, and more attuned to recognizing and flying that regime. We don't present it as "Emergency Maneuvers" or "Upset Recovery". To some extent it's semantics, but our opinion- nothing more- is that a few brief sessions aren't going to give you solid, durable skills in extreme upset recovery. Our first and most realistic goal is to get you listening to your aircraft at those edges, so you recognize them and stay out of most emergencies. We also want you to be comfortable enough keep your skills up yourself, rather than just doing stalls, slow flight, steep turns once every 2 years in your flight review when a CFI forces you to. Second, we want you to see that these unusual situations are often recoverable, and give you enough mental space to help abate the "startle factor" so you've got enough wits about you to proactively manage an upset. Third, and only third, are those actual skills to, say, roll upright as efficiently as possible when upset.
If you truly want to be proficient in all attitudes, take the aerobatics course!
This course is first an extended ground session, covering basic aerodynamics. We'll work through the 4 forces of flight, discussing them in relation to flight at the edges of the flight envelope. It goes fast if you're well grounded in this material, not so fast if you aren't, so review beforehand is recommended to save both time and money.
The first flight will start on the ground with aircraft familiarization and safety procedures. In flight, you'll get a feel for the Decathlon, and do some exercises to see how it is very comfortable doing things you probably wouldn't do in your Cessna/Piper/Beech/Cirrus. Adverse yaw, MCA, maintained power off stalls, wingovers and practice with very steep turns and pitch are typically on the agenda. If you're feeling comfortable, we might go upside down with an aileron roll.
The second flight gets you more comfortable in intentional steep attitudes such as wingovers to 90 degree bank, and 45 degree up and down pitch. We'll get upside down with an aileron roll, and use that for some variations, such as recovering from inverted and mostly-inverted attitudes.
The third flight focuses on spins. First up is what we call maintained or sustained power off stalls, others call it parachuting or falling leaf. In a power off stall, the controls stay full aft. Your job is to use the rudder to stay out of a spin. That's followed by 1-turn incipient spins, and relate that to typical accidental spin scenarios. Depending on how you feel, we'll try to do multi-turn spins and possibly aggravated elevator trim stalls for a power-on entry.
All these exercises need a good 4,000' ceiling and reasonable visibility. For multi-turn spins, we need more like 8,000'.
We don't follow their syllabus exactly, but Michael Goulian's book "Basic Aerobatics" mentioned in the "Other Stuff" page also gives a good feel for the scope and skills covered. We'll cover the standard aerobatic maneuvers such as loops, rolls, half loops and immelmans, half cubans, hammerheads and spins. Depending on your goals, we can tilt the training to or away from the formal competition standards for these maneuvers- our first goal is to have fun and significantly expand your flying skills, second is to be safe performing basic maneuvers, third is whatever you aspire to- whether it be winning competitions or Sunday afternoon loops and rolls.
The first two sessions mostly follow the Unusual Attitudes sequence. We start with a ground session discussing aerodynamics factors that will be important for aerobatic flight, followed by some advanced airwork to get you familiar with both the aircraft and its handling at the edges of the normal flight envelope.
The second session will focus on extreme attitudes, getting into and out of inverted flight and steep pitches up and down. We may start paying a bit more attention to precision in these maneuvers than the UA sequence does. Aileron rolls, maybe start with inverted flight and introduce the more complex slow rolls.
The session descriptions at this point are aspirational- this is the target pace. You'll do what works best for you. Each lesson may practice some of the previous maneuvers particularly the basic rolls and loops. The third is where the fun really starts. We do some more exercises of 45 and 90 degree lines to learn the control movements & forces involved, and how to stay visually oriented. Then some loops!
On the fourth session we'll practice more rolls, particularly slow rolls, stopping for some inverted flight, possibly inverted turns, and more loops.
On the fifth we'll combine these basics in different ways- half loops to inverted, then roll upright, and immelmans- half loop with an immediate roll upright.
Sixth is half cubans- 5/8 loop stopping 30-45 degrees towards the ground upside down, rolling upright still on the 30-45 degree down line, pull to level. Optional are reverse half cubans, flying it in reverse- starting with a 45 degree line up, roll inverted, and 5/8 loop to upright.
Next will be vertical lines and hammerheads, pivoting at the end of a straight line up to a straight line down.
Spins follow- 1 to 2 turn spins first to learn the basics, then competition spins ending first on a planned heading then in a vertical line down.
The ninth task is multiturn spins, and start reviewing what you've learned as well as practice aborted maneuvers. At some point here or before, we'll do some competition turns- a stylized turn with 60 degree banks and 2-3 G forces.
Tenth is a review of all the maneuvers, and finally putting all this together in a sequence. You've got more than enough skills by this point to fly the Primary Category in an aerobatic contest!