A short PSA on flat-spins in Flying Circus’ S.E.5a

I’ve learned something interesting as of last night when it comes to flying the S.E.5a (arguably my most flown Flying Circus aircraft) and I wanted to share it with everyone in-case you’re having difficulty with this as well – I am talking about flat-spins.

Spinning ’round and ’round…

The S.E.5a is a delight to fly 95% of the time… except for when you do manage to flat-spin it.

Although most of the time, the S.E.5a is relatively well behaved compared to many of its contemporaries (I’m looking at you Sopwith Camel), I have learned that it too can get into a very nasty flat spin that requires a very specific procedure to get out of it.

This quick guide comes to us via G. DeFreest Larner on YouTube who posted a reaction video to Wolfpack345’s recent Flying Circus live stream where at one point he spun his S.E.5a into the ground. I also flew my S.E.5a into the ground in a similar fashion while flying with Wolfpack and several others the other night after a short but tense dogfight with a Fokker D.VIII.

Enough commentary, straight to the video!

The procedure

This is how I’ve learned how to get out of a spin in the S.E.5a:

  1. Pull the power back to idle
  2. Roll/ailerons into the direction of the spin
  3. Elevator full back
  4. Rudder counter to the spin

Your S.E.5a should pop out of the spin within a rotation or two once all of these are applied at the same time.

Next time around I’ll cover the Camel which I have yet to master it’s spin recovery technique…

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Blue 5 says:

    That is fairly standard recovery, except for pulling the stick back. Unless something weird is happening, forcing the nose up / increased AoA on the wings should worsen the spin as the lift differential increases.

    One possible solution is to apply power and back stick, then cut power and push forward. Cycling this a few times might coax the nose down and into a more conventional spin. I used to do this with the P-39 as the short moment from empennage to CoG and the banking of the tail controls by the wing necessitated some drastic action.

    But it might just be a FM issue, given the SE’s general steadiness.


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I don’t know. I mean usually the recommendation that I’ve read is to reduce power to idle and counter rudder and the aircraft should pop out of the spin. But that’s on more stable aircraft designs of other eras – I was surprised at how much more involved the S.E.5a is given its generally steady reputation.

      Would you happen to know the Camel’s recovery method? 😉


      1. Blue 5 says:

        A Stoic outlook and a pocket full of lucky charms….

        Actually, it’s a more aggressive version of your SE list but a more sensitive creature, you have to react quickly leat she flip over into a spin going the other way.

        There is a paper out there on the web by modern pilots who say the Camel is not tricky for someone raised in a technical flying environment: the problem was the lack of understanding and experience in 1917

        Liked by 1 person

  2. harryvoyager says:

    My recollection from Rise of Flight was that to get out of a Camel spin, you had to use basically the procedure from the F-16: basically oscilation the controls on time with the nose bobbing, in an attempt to increase the nose bob, until it bobs far enough down to recover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Something to keep in mind!


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