Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Looking Versus Seeing

A visual nuance that spells the difference between good and perfect

So, What's The Trick To "Seeing" Versus "Looking"?
Movement is usually judged as being a change in position from one location to the next. In the case of judging the movement of the nose, we have to see it against the background and relate movement as it's measured by the distance from the top of the nose to the horizon. This seems easy enough to do. But it's not.

Part of the problem with the nose is that, even though it's right there in front of us, it often offers little in the way of a definitive aiming point. It has no hard feature that can act as a front sight. If it featured something like the World War I ring-and-bead machine gun sight, this whole process would be much easier. So, rather than looking at the entire nose, let's narrow our visual focus down to something about the nose that's very specific and easy to define. The top of the spinner is a good reference. Or, maybe the crack where the spinner meets the nose bowl, assuming you can see it. Or, the line of screws that hold the nose bowl to the sheet metal. We need something specific to use as if it's the front sight on a rifle.
Simply put: We're trying to build in a total awareness of what the nose is doing at all times.
We also need something specific to aim the nose at so we know when it's right or wrong. We need a target. That way, we're aligning two very specific points. The horizon can be a pretty specific target, but we don't want to aim at the horizon itself because it isn't always right. The point we want to aim at—and this is important—is the distance above or below the horizon that's defined by the airspeed as being the right aiming point for a specific flight regime. Glide will be one position, glide with two notches of flaps will be another, etc. Climb will be something altogether different. The important part of all of this is to visually establish the nose attitude for any given situation and visually lock onto the aim point (the distance below the horizon), and monitor any changes.

This isn't to say that we're going to have a series of predetermined aim points/nose attitudes absolutely memorized and slavishly nail our nose on those in every flying situation. That would be ideal and, with enough practice, we can do that, but most people can't because they don't fly enough. Our actual goal is to recognize that, once we've set the nose reference point on the distance below/above the horizon that yields the airspeed required for that flight situation, we're going to hold that attitude as if it's cast in concrete. In doing so, the airspeed will remain constant. However, even then, we're going to continually cross-check the airspeed to verify that something hasn't changed.

Simply put: We're trying to build in a total awareness of what the nose is doing at all times. If we're aware of changes in the nose attitude, stall/spin accidents simply won't happen.


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