Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Looking Versus Seeing

A visual nuance that spells the difference between good and perfect

And Then There's The Windshield/Panel Scan
We mentioned the windshield/instrument panel scan earlier. This is something that some pilots do better than others. Unfor­tunately, too often the emphasis is placed on what's happening on the panel, with the artificial horizon and airspeed indicator winning out over the windshield. It's important to remember that, if the nose doesn't move, neither of the other two will move either. However, it's easy to move the nose faster than either instrument, primarily the airspeed, can react. IAS will always lag so it's giving historical information.

The above is what leads pilots to "chase" the airspeed. They glue their eyes to the IAS and then pull or push until the needle is where they want it, only to discover they've overdone it. A series of up and down corrections ensues. Airspeed happens first in the windshield and should be controlled by the windshield.

To adjust the speed, set the nose at an attitude and hesitate, giving the airspeed time to stabilize. Glance at the airspeed. If it's not right, adjust the nose a tiny bit by choosing a new aim point. Hesitate. Glance at the airspeed. Continue that process, creeping up on perfect until the speed is stable and correct. Then, we notice where the nose reference sits in relation to the horizon and do our best to hold it there with occasional glances at the IAS to make sure nothing has changed. The windshield/nose is primary, the IAS, secondary.

Make the foregoing into a habit and, before long, we can intuitively put the nose extremely close to where it should be for a given flight situation. We can do this because we're seeing, not just looking. 


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