Students must demonstrate the ability to recognize a spiral and to affect a smooth, safe recovery to straight and level flight.


This manoeuvre is only assessed on the Private Pilot Flight Test. The Examiner will initiate the spiral from an over-banked steep turn or an incorrect spin entry. Control will be given to you when the spiral is established. On assuming control you will be expected to commence recovery immediately.

Performance Criteria

Private Pilot Students must:

  1. recover promptly and smoothly using control applications in the proper sequence; and
  2. return smoothly to straight and level flight without excessive loss of altitude and without exceeding any operating limitation of the aeroplane.


A HASEL check must be conducted before the manoeuvre (or at the discretion of the Examiner). Power must be immediately cut and the wings must be aggressively but smoothly levelled prior to executing a smooth but aggressive pullout recovery. During the pullout, the nose should be raised to the climb attitude; when the best rate climb speed is achieved, full power is added for the climb back to the original cruising altitude. This manoeuvre is always initiated by the Examiner, at which time they will usually ask you to take your hands and feet off the controls. Sometimes you are asked to put your head down. The Examiner places the aircraft in a descending turn, and then says “recover.” This is your cue. Recognize the spiral condition with the nose down and the airspeed building, and immediately cut the power. The wings must be levelled before you attempt to recover from the dive and the load factor associated with trying to recover from a diving turn could easily overload the wings. Sometimes an Examiner tests the spiral recovery in conjunction with the simulated instrument portion of the flight test—while you are under the hood he will ask you to recover from a descending turn.

Flight Safety

  1. HASEL check. Altitude should be high enough to recover from spiral 2000’ above ground minimum, or prescribed by the Pilot Operating Handbook, whichever is higher. Special consideration should be given to watching for other aircraft within your vicinity, as turning to avoid another target at high speed could be impossible. Is the fire extinguisher secured? How about your passenger and articles in the aircraft?
  2. Avoid excessive backpressure on the control column during the pullout recovery as this can cause a secondary, high-speed stall. Nevertheless, do not enter the caution range on the airspeed indicator (yellow line).
  3. Be sure the wings are level prior to, and during, the pull out as failure to do this can cause excessive wing stressing and twisting.
  4. Solo spiral practise is not permitted.