Taking a tumble

September 14, 2009 by Warren Morningstar, Executive Producer AOPA ePublishing

You might remember from your training that your attitude indicator can tumble if the aircraft pitch angle exceeds the gyro’s limits. What does that look like and why should you care? We take a look in this video blog.

10 Responses to “Taking a tumble”

  1. Bill Ryan Says:

    Good show! Hope we can cage that poor A.I.

  2. Patrick Flannigan Says:

    Interesting. I’ve never actually seen an attitude indicator tumble. I always imagined it would be “sneaky” like a vacuum failure, but it’s pretty hard to miss a spiralling attitude indicator like the video shows. Is that common for tumbled gyros, or does the indication vary on a case-by-case basis?

    There’s a Decathlon at my local airport, I think I’ll make an appointment with an instructor to do some basic aero just to see this firsthand.

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the camera recommendation! I’m actually shopping for a good video-blogging cam now, so good timing!

  3. Warren Morningstar Says:

    Thanks, Patrick. Just to be clear, only the cockpit video was shot with the Contour HD. You might find the audio somewhat lacking for other uses. This camera is best for point-of-view shots — mount it on your helmet, glare shield, wing tip, etc. The extreme wide angle and very limited microphone make it unsuitable for more conventional shots, in my opinion.

  4. Steve Early Says:

    Guess it’s just me but in the video, a shadow completely obscures the AI until after it has already tumbled.

  5. Patrick Flannigan Says:

    Thanks for the warning on the audio Warren. I’ll keep shopping around then!

  6. Danny Cherry Says:

    Thanks for posting the video. I have a Private certificate and only about 125 hours. I have never seen that, even though, I have heard of it. Verrrrry interesting and informative.

  7. Roger Halstead Says:

    I’ve seen an AI tumble and appreciate what you are trying to show, but unfortunately on all of my screens the AI is completely covered by the video progress bar except for a couple of seconds. IOW the video didn’t show to me, or any one using the same software anything of importance.

  8. Warren Morningstar Says:

    Was your cursor resting on the video? The player has a “hover” mode that keeps the video controls on top when the cursor is on the video. Move the mouse pointer off to another part of the page, and the video progress bar should disappear. Let me know if it doesn’t.

  9. Hans Plangger Says:


    I have a back-up electrical AI, that I need to uncage every time I start the plane.
    Will that AI recover or not be affected? If it is affected in the same manner,
    is there a way of “caging” it back, then uncage?



  10. Dave Hirschman Says:

    Caging your electric AI will prevent it from tumbling in unusual attutides (as will pulling the circuit breaker). You can uncage it in normal flight without damaging it.


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