A student pilot, or any other pilot for
that matter, can practice flying even while not in a plane.
A situation can be visualized and simulated actions can be
practiced. Flying is not only with the mind but can and
should be in the mind. In your mind, plan ahead of a flight
for the combinations of controls, attitudes and manoeuvres
required to put the aircraft where you want it. Skill is
best demonstrated by the manner in which a particular
manoeuvre follows your 'in the mind' planning.
At some point in your training the instructor may cover the
airspeed indicator and have you "feel", sense and visualize
the aircraft as it proceeds. With allowances for the density
altitude and wind you should be able to "visualize" the
aircraft around the pattern to a landing. Some flying skill
will be acquired subconsciously, but in the main the student
will need to rely on their physical senses to control the
aircraft. Sight will always be the primary sense for your
flying. In the beginning maximize your use of the external
sight picture. There will be plenty of time to learn to
relate the sight picture to the instrument picture. The
other senses have information that is available in the
noise, smell, and feel of pressure and vibration. We feel
changes in vibration frequency and amplitude. The senses
combine to give the pilot an over all feeling of what is
both right and wrong with the aircraft. Hearing is a
neglected sense. A student wants to learn the several
'constants' of engine rpm and airspeed sounds.
The sense of touch is the most neglected sense. You can only
'feel' an airplane when holding it lightly, very lightly.
The sense of smell is best utilized as a danger sense. You
can learn the smell of the aircraft when it is performing
well. Any other smell serves as a warning. A change in your
sensory perception of aircraft performance is the first
alert to take precautionary action. You should never smell
fuel. The last sense to get the fine-tuning required to fly
well is the sense of sight. With practice of the right kind,
you will begin to see the nose and horizon relationship that
exists in every flight situation. It takes time.
Speed is set visually; touch and kinaesthetic sensitivity
sense speed changes. If you do not sense these changes you
are more apt to misuse the rudder. The body can sense, and
be ever more sensitive to the side pressures of a slip or a
skid. Modern aircraft make it possible for a pilot to fly
dangerously well without being sensitive to an uncoordinated
The ability to anticipate changes in control pressures
required for a particular manoeuvre must be developed.
Failure to anticipate the rudder movement required to move
the nose as airspeed decreases is a most common flight
error. The behaviour of instruments such as the airspeed
indicator and vertical speed indicator that lag in relation
to sound and attitude changes must be expected and
understood. Chasing the airspeed indicator is a common
student fault. Even worse is not recognizing that the VSI
takes about 12 seconds before giving accuracy indications
unless the control movements are exceptionally smooth.
Starting the trim from a known position and keeping track of
its movements in various flight configurations makes
possible rapid/correct trim pressure corrections.
You should accept every opportunity to review your basic
skills by airwork and ground reference. This is not a waste
of time or money. Exercises that improve your ability to
make wind-drift corrections and timing will improve your
airport pattern work. You need to make adjustments by
anticipation. The only reason your instructor 'knows' when
you are high. low, wide, too fast or slow is because of his
experience in anticipation. Do whatever it takes to place
your aircraft where you want it.
Do you fly around, below, above certain areas to avoid
communications? Do you try to enter a certain way into an
airport and to avoid others? Do you avoid crosswind-landing
opportunities when they become available. Do you ignore
practice in ground reference, stalls, slow flight, and night
proficiency? Challenge your weaknesses until they become
areas of strength.