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Feature Article: Smoothness
Piloting skill is usually poorly defined unless the smoothness
factor is included.It is only by the smallest increments of control
pressures that a skilled pilot is able to make controlled flight
appear to be without obvious input. Speed and position seem to
You can do it as well. If you don't want the plane over there,
then don't let it go there. You can get there smoothly just by
keeping your control input gentle and light of touch. No jerks,
gentle as possible but firm when required. By making very small
adjustments you can make your mistakes less obvious.
In many respects turning a plane is a series of small smooth
elements just as you would use in getting into a tight parking
space in one try. Only by making your control movements in the
smallest of increments can you detect your small mistakes and
prevent them getting worse. The major distinction between a smooth
pilot and the rest is to smallness of their control and power
application. Even the larger applications of the smooth pilot
are reduced by half before they have a chance to take effect.
I recently flew with a very competent pilot who was in the
process of making a series of small heading changes for the purpose
of intercepting a VOR radial. The pilot made all the required
turns using the ailerons. The plane was rocking along without
a change in the VOR needle. Problem was without a smidgen or
rudder no turns were being made. In a similar vein, I was flying
with my daughter-in-law in the front seat. She is a classic non-pilot.
As I flew along without my hands on the yoke, she remarked something
to the effect that we must be on autopilot. The ultimate 'smoothness'
Last Modified June 16, ©2021 TAGE.COM