In aviation, a graveyard spiral is a dangerous spiral dive entered accidentally by a pilot and of which the pilot is initially unaware.
(Theresa Duncan, writer, blogger, creator of video games, and Jeremy Blake, digital artist, had been together for 12 years before entering their own graveyard spiral.)
Graveyard spirals typically occure in instrument meteorological conditions, when the pilot loses awareness of the aircraft’s altitude and allows the aircraft to enter a gentle banking turn.
(It is to be guessed that the “gentle banking turn” in Duncan and Blake’s life began with the move to Los Angeles where the film careers they sought were to take off.)
A pilot who allows their plane to bank into a turn while under the impression that it is still flying parallel may do so at first because they are not able to see the horizon or land underneath them. Barriers to vision might be clouds, fog, darkness, or unfeatured terrain such as the ocean.
(Theresa’s vision of her life became blocked by a fog in the form of wild insites and connections of things not normally connected, a great talent when you write or make movies for a living, as she did, but her fog also included paranoid delusions, misconceptions, and beliefs in conspiracies with increasing number. When events did not go as she planned, she blamed others.)
Such a pilot might not realize their position even though indicators in the panel clearly show the actual position.
(Duncan was sure that Scientologists had something against her and Blake and were secretly sabotaging their careers. If anyone indicated to her that this was simply not true, that Duncan was clearly not “flying straight” in this vein of thought, Duncan would dismiss them, even going as far as to disregard their friendships, the “instruments” right in front of her eyes. How does one become so obsessed with beliefs?)
An inexperienced and incompetent pilot may be scared by the situation, might not check the instruments, or assume them to be malfunctioning because the senses of the pilot indicate straight and level flight strongly. The pilot may feel level but descending flight. This impression leads to the pilot “pulling up” or attempting to climb by pulling up on the controls.
(Duncan’s life was wrapped in the assuredness that she was correct in her thinking, that everyone else was wrong. She pushed forward, did her work, only to find when confronted to take on the assumption that others are out to get her. There was a plagiarizing of a review article that she had written, an attempt to “pull up” on the control of her life. When confronted, she denied it, saying Scientologists had changed the date of the article in question, that the original was copied from hers.)
Pulling back on controls on a plane in a banking turn, which is in effect creating a large circle in the sky, creates and even smaller circle and causes the plane to descend as part of the lift being generated by the wings which is directed sideways.
(Duncan and Blake compose a report on the FBI, the government, and the church of Scientology, to present in a lawsuit to prove the conspiracy to ruin their careers. Articles indicate they may have used drugs, which could have inhibited the clearer thinking their lives required.)
Only when the turning circle gets very small will the passengers notice unusual sensations. At that point the aircraft is in a descending circle or spiral.
(In her mind, Duncan was sure that her L.A. neighbors were in on the plot against them. Erratic behavior gets her and Blake evicted from their house in Venice Beach. Plans, projects fall through for both, do to their estrangement from all around them – a descending circle. They pick up and head back to New York.)
Conflicting sensory mis-impressions and a temporary case of vertigo cause the mind and body of the pilot incapable of judging their position. In such cases the vertigo may cause airsickness.
(Establishing themselves back in New York worked for a few months. Blake resumed his former job with a video game company, a step back for him. Theresa continues her blog site, her only form of work, which becomes increasingly paranoid and strange.)
The pilot who needs at that point, more than ever, to reach for the controls and orient their aircraft but may be too sick and appear to even be intoxicated in their struggle to regain control.
(Just weeks before their deaths, both Duncan and Blake refuse to leave their apartment to attend a fund-raising party which they had planned that was taking place in the garden downstairs. Guests of the party ask for them throughout the evening. Finally, Theresa and Jeremy send word that they will not be attending the party because they had both shared a vision of the grill outside blowing up and harming Theresa.)
In any case the ever tightening, descending spiral eventually leads to the ground.
(Theresa committs suicide by ingesting a bottle of Tylenol PM with bourbon. One week later, on the eve of her memorial service, Jeremy walks into the Atlantic Ocean. He had found Theresa’s body with a note that she was at peace with her decision, as he seemed to be with his. His body was found five days later.)
That is what is referred to by pilots as a graveyard spiral.
(In life, one can be on one’s own graveyard spiral….It always ends the same.)
Source: Wikipedia: The graveyard Spiral – aviation
Picture: Theresa Memorial on the Chelsea Hotel.