How to Be a Great Stick – Become a Conductor

Airplanes fly better than pilots. That fact offers a life-saving skill when a pilot is faced with a nose high unusual attitude. A stall in this situation could be deadly. Pilots cause airplanes to stall, so whatever control inputs a pilot makes risks a stall. Instead, the pilot can reduce power and unload flight controls. The airplane will go ballistic, it will not stall; it will recover to a nose low attitude – a much more manageable attitude. The pilot was a conductor; he allowed the airplane to fly the recovery maneuver.
Airplanes fly better than pilots. That fact offers a life-saving skill when a pilot is faced with a nose high unusual attitude. A stall in this situation could be deadly. Pilots cause airplanes to stall, so whatever control inputs a pilot makes risks a stall. Instead, the pilot can reduce power and unload flight controls. The airplane will go ballistic, it will not stall; it will recover to a nose low attitude – a much more manageable attitude. The pilot was a conductor; he allowed the airplane to fly the recovery maneuver.

Whether a pilot develops good stick and rudder skills during basic pilot training or seeks to correct deteriorated skills, good habits based upon fundamentals always apply. In a Hangar Talk series titled How to Become a Great Stick, I will present ten great habits that promote good stick and rudder skill. In no particular order, my selection of The Top Ten Best Stick and Rudder Habits includes:
1. Become a conductor.
2. Recognition and use of sight picture
3. Stop looking at the runway when flying a traffic pattern.
4. Be alert to Monkey Flying.
5. Fly hands off to avoid pilot induced oscillation and over control.
6. Unload elevator prior to bank (roll).
7. Get off that rudder.
8. Recognize and control P-factor yaw.
9. Understanding them word
10. Never jerk, push, yank or pull on flight controls

Become a Conductor
Contrary to what many pilots are taught, the airplane is not trying to kill you. A pilot’s job is not to maintain continuous command of the controls to keep the airplane flying and prevent the airplane from going out of control. Actually, certified airplanes are very stable in flight; they are designed to fly; they want to fly; airplanes fly and they do not stall unless the pilot makes them stall. A pilot’s relationship to the airplane is like a conductor’s relationship to an orchestra. The pilot directs the performance, the flight maneuver. Like an orchestra performs the music, the airplane performs the maneuver. Airplanes fly and the pilot, like an orchestra conductor, directs the flight.

This mind set and focus with an appreciation of aerodynamics has a huge effect on a pilot’s stick and rudder skills; for example:
• In the category of aircraft limitations and performance, aerobatics instructors frequently caution students to be careful what you ask the airplane to do – the airplane will probably do it.
• Airplanes do not stall unless the pilot commands a stall with excessive deflection of the angle of attack control (that would be the elevator).
• To the point of pilot induced oscillation, Isaac Newton instructs pilots that when you do stuff, other stuff happens; therefore, do not wiggle the controls.
• Certified airplanes have inherent pitch stability. They will maintain an airspeed consistent with the trim set. Many pilots are trained to push the nose down when faced with pitch deviation from level flight (for example, pilot induced pitch or bumpy air). Instead, a pilot should unload the elevator (release the yolk) and allow the airplane to reestablish pitch attitude.
• A pilot can learn from the airplane; for example, consider a student pilot learning stall recovery. The flight instructor typically pushes the stick forward, maybe adds power to demonstrate a stall recovery. The student experiences the sight, feel and sound of that recovery performance as directed by the flight instructor. Too many student pilots learn anxiety and even fear of stalls from that demonstration. Contrast that with how the airplane recovers a stall when uninhibited by a pilot. At the buffet signifying the onset of a stall, just release the controls – let go and experience a smooth, comfortable stall recovery. Remember airplanes do not stall and they recover a stall if pilot does not interfere.

A pilot can learn about aircraft stability and learn to trust the airplane from a plethora of maneuvers best left to the airplane. A good stick, an airman, an aviator, allows the airplane to fly. The pilot’s job is not to fly; but instead, conduct or direct performance. Use the control needed, when need, as much as needed and then allow the airplane to fly the maneuver.

Click here to see this month’s feature video Pilot Habits. This story is one of my favorites and worthy of watching again if you have seen it.

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