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Feature Article: Flying With Your Senses

One of the reasons I teach flying with a very limited selection of power settings, airspeed, configurations, and attitudes is because I want the student to develop a 'sense' of what makes given flight conditions. Even the carburation of the engine is designed for relatively constant rpm. Every flight situation has a distinctive sound, visual perspective, and feel. You have a subconscious sense of what these conditions are. I want to raise these to the conscious level of recognition. All the senses are in support one to the other. What you hear in a given situation has an associated feel. What you feel has an associated sight picture, etc. Initially your learning will be 3/4 developing a sight picture. Sight dominates the initial learning process. What you hear must be associated and used as a supplement.

What you hear will often give you advance notice of something happening. Hearing is on of the best senses you have in anticipating what you need to do before sight notices anything happening. Your touch is more a 'butt' feeling. It occurs during the maneuver or during recovery. Smell is an emergency sense. Learn as quickly as you can how an airplane operating normally smells. Any difference in smell is a prelude to an emergency. Oddly enough, smell is one of your most powerful memory senses. You can identify smells and associate them with specific situations as well as with sight or sound. The Swiss Air accident is a classic example.

Speed can be part of every sensory perception. Speed is visually sensed best close to the ground. However, there are visual illusions associated with visual changes even at a constant speed. This is especially true on the landing approach where the ground seems to balloon into our visual field at a logarithmic rate.

You can feel the aircraft speed through the sensitivity of control with your fingertips and the vibrations in your bottom. This is a developed sense in flying. You acquire it gradually through exposure. This sense of feel can be developed by covering the airspeed indicator while making the changes are then checking the accuracy by peeking. You can learn to land without the airspeed indicator, it is wise to practice it while learning. Someday you may really need it. Your whole body feels acceleration only while it is occurring When acceleration stops your body sense ceases and must change to sense of vibration. Vibration senses record both frequency and amplitude. Changes in vibration should never be ignored. The feelings of an airplane are specific to that airplane. A change in rigging or a new engine will require a re-education of our sense of feel.

Sound comes to the pilot from the engine, propeller, and wind. The worst situation is when all there is, is wind noise. Speed changes are best indicated by wind noise, changes engine sound comes in second. Small changes in rpm are hard to detect but important, as in the onset of carburetor ice.

Last Modified March 22, ©2023 TAGE.COM

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