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Feature Article: Reaction and Anticipation
In searching for an appropriate place for this material I
was surprised at how often the terms appeared, the variety of
context, and application to both plane and pilot. In many situations
you must be decisive, selective and accurate. You must know what
to do, do it, and do it correctly. Most often the word reaction
occurs in my writing in conjunction with anticipation. There
are times when all anticipation occurred long before the event
requiring reaction, as in a cataclysmic engine failure.
Reaction time is based upon how your senses work together.
Hearing and smell may provide advance warning but most often
we are not as sensitive to these as to the tactile sense. Vision
evokes the quickest reactions but this quickness may be instinctive
and counter productive. Where you look, makes a difference in
how a maneuver is performed. Watching over the nose will enable
you to counter visual illusion and associated instinctive reactions.
How the maneuver feels and sounds will augment vision once the
proper parameters are practiced and imprinted. The sensitivity
of your visual perception to what occurs over the nose is the
most critical flying sense you have. This developed visual perception
will make reactions appear as anticipation to those not visually
We need to practice reactions in flying situations so that
they can be anticipated, decisive, selective, and accurate. Landings,
takeoffs, steep turns, stalls, minimum controllable, and unusual
attitudes are areas where we can organize our senses to get our
performance and the required reaction under control. Along with
correct performance of the maneuvers, we should expose ourselves
to incorrect (read instinctive) reaction situations. The sudden
inadvertent event is the one most likely to be met with instinctive
Recognition of the need and correctness in reaction is, to
me, more important than the speed. With age I have replaced my
reaction time with anticipation. For example, I laugh before
the punch line of jokes. I feel that the shift from reaction
to anticipation is one of the large personality changes that
distinguish pilots from the less fortunate. It is certainly one
of the things I look for when I solo a student.
Knowing what to expect from yourself, the plane, ATC, and the
weather will greatly reduce the need for reaction and increase
the presence of anticipation. The practice element that I would
concentrate on would be;
1) Awareness of how deceptive our senses can be, --
2) How anticipation can affect selection, speed, and accuracy
of any reaction--,3) Situations where reaction is all
you have available. It all comes down to judgment.
The best pilot complement is 'smooth'. Being smooth means
that there is no wasted motion, no hesitation, and no doubt of
what comes next. Every motion is anticipated. The pilot is ahead
of the aircraft. Decisions and movements are unhurried and evenly
paced. Smo o o th.
Last Modified January 18, ©2018 TAGE.COM