Compass Turns, Stalls, and Unusual Attitudes

A VFR day.. that’s new! We went out today to practice some compass turns. Say your heading indicator dies on you and you’re only left with your compass, it’s helpful to know how to read it and how to plan turns using it. Unlike the heading indicator, the magnetic compass is prone to errors when you’re turning on certain headings, climbing, descending, accelerating, or decelerating. Yea.. can you see why the heading indicator was invented? The trick is to take all of these factors into account when you’re making your turn, and if it’s done properly, you’ll roll out on the right heading.

Tom had to dim the Aspen display so that I couldn’t cheat with the regular heading indicator, but that also got rid of my turn coordinator. Without that, I can’t tell if I’m over-turning or under-turning. We managed to pull a turn coordinator up on the Garmin 496, which worked quite nicely.

We did some stalls after that. Man, unlike the Cessna 172, you can really tell when the Piper is stalling. It buffets and shakes and is not so happy until the nose finally breaks downward. Although it doesn’t have an audible warning horn, it has a bright red light on the dashboard that shines when approaching a stall. Those went well.

Tom took control of the airplane. While I put my head down, he flew that plane every which way to confuse me and left it in, well, “unusual attitudes” that I had to correct. That airplane is really responsive in those turns. However, the Aspen PFD couldn’t take it. The attitudes were so unusual that the attitude indicator had a red X over it and said, “Cross Check Attitude”. I used the backup indicator to pull out of the dives and to prevent¬†imminent¬†stalls.

We headed back to Caldwell and did a new type of approach – a GPS approach – the RNAV 22.

Logbook Entry N8350R (PA28)

Flight Details




Instrument Details


Additional Notes

Track, RNAV 22 CDW, Compass / Timed Turns, Stalls on/off, Slow Flight, ASP changes, Unusual Attitudes