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Since stalls are the cause of much concern among student pilots and the nonflying public, we will discuss them here. We mentioned that an airplane must attain flying speed in order to take off. Sufficient airspeed must be maintained in flight to produce enough lift to support the airplane without requiring too large an angle of attack. At a specific angle of attack, called the critical angle of attack, air going over a wing will separate from the wing or "burble" (see figure 5-8 ), causing the wing to lose its lift (stall). The airspeed at which the wing will not support the airplane without exceeding this critical angle of attack is called the stalling speed. This speed will vary with changes in wing configuration (flap position). Excessive load factors caused by sudden maneuvers, steep banks, and wind gusts can also cause the aircraft to exceed the critical angle of attack and thus stall at any airspeed and any attitude. Speeds permitting smooth flow of air over the airfoil and control surfaces must be maintained to control the airplane.
Flying an airplane, like other skills that are learned, requires practice to remain proficient. Professional pilots for the major airlines, military pilots, and flight instructors all return to the classroom periodically for updating their skills. Good judgment must be exercised by all pilots to ensure the safe and skillful operation of the airplanes they fly.
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Updated:March 12, 2004