paragliders hero imageparagliders hero image

Spiral Dives and Stable Spiral

Recently there has been talk on this subject and all the talk is useless if nobody is offering a solution.The problem seems to be that some gliders, not all, have a stable spiral problem. What appears to be happening is that when a fast steep spiral is induced by the pilot, the wing does not return to normal flight without the pilot doing something. Obviously this is not ideal if you think your wing is meant to return to stable flight without input.

Several accidents have already happened and people have ended up dead. We must learn from these unfortunate accidents.

It is my personal view that you should not enter a spiral unless you have been told and understand how to enter and exit one properly and smoothly. Under no circumstances should you enter a spiral and expect the wing to return to normal flight automatically without pilot input and control.

  • First, you need lots of altitude. With altitude you will have time to overcome most eventualities. Check the air space is clear around and below you.
  • To induce your spiral smoothly, first look and then lean in the direction you want to spiral as you pull on the corresponding brake.
  • As the wing begins to turn your speed and the G forces increase. To control your decent and speed of rotation use the inner brake. Apply more brake and you will descend and rotate faster and if you ease up on the inner brake it will slow both down again.
  • To exit a spiral properly all you have to do is smoothly release the inner brake let the wing continue for a revolution then gently apply a little outer brake. You do not want to exit too quickly, as you will be left trying to control a big surge. So allow a revolution to reduce you speed and rotation before pulling on the outer brake. The full deceleration should need two 360’s before returning to normal flight.
  • Remember that a spiral can be very disorientating, so if you are just beginning take it very easy and only do a couple of revolutions until you are used to the sensations.
  • If it all goes wrong and you get disoriented during the spiral then gently use the outer brake to come back to normal flight.
    Important. Always, always fly your wing out of a spiral. Do not expect the wing to do it alone.
  • If you suffer from motion sickness, low blood pressure, bad heart or mental problems I suggest you do not do any spirals as you might black out.
  • I really hope this helps a little, remember if you are not sure about anything then ask an instructor or one of your responsible local pilots.

Happy safe flying,

Rob and the team.