Topic

Flying Blind: Simulated Instrument Practice

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I see said the blind man!

Ya, well, not really.  If you are unlucky enough to have accidentally flown into a cloud, you won’t see much other than sweat streaming down your face and your instruments indicating strange things you do not actually feel happening.  The trouble with flying in the clouds is that your body plays tricks on you and you may feel like you are turning when you are not, or feel like you are flying straight when you are actually turning.  This presents a pretty dangerous scenario, given your aircraft tends to lose a little altitude in a turn, and the more you bank, the more load you put on the wing to maintain altitude, eventually to a point where you either pull the wing off the plane, or fly a nice round spiral descending turn right into the ground (usually coming out of the cloud just in time to let out a string of expletives before receiving an express ticket to meet your maker).

While this may seem scary, it is in fact why we as VFR pilots are so cautious of flying in poor weather conditions even if we legally can, and also why you are required to spend at least 3 hrs of actual or simulated instrument time with your instructor in the plane.  (I highly recommend you find a CFI who will take you into the real clouds for 3 hours rather than just slap a pair of foggles or hood on you).

How it works

Most often you will be using a view limiting device like a “hood” or a pair of “foggles”.  Your instructor will give you instructions to fly certain altitudes and headings, issuing instructions to turn and climb and descend all at the same time as you become more proficient.  You can check out the video above to get an idea of how your training session is going to go with your instructor, and also pick up some helpful tips!