Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

By puestadesol
Just looking through my lesson feedback notes and a consistent theme appears to be 'struggles to maintain attitude and/or heading' when performing other tasks (planning diversions, map looking etc)

Does anyone have any tips? Thanks in advance.
T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By Dusty_B
What Graham said, plus...
Many people have the habit of moving the controls when they are not looking out of the window (or at the AI). I would bet that even if you’ve got her trimmed out, you could still be making unconscious control inputs, reacting to nothing in particular. It’s as if you have to be seen to be doing something! Trust the aeroplane, she’s got more experience than you.
T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By lobstaboy
I'd also add that it depends on where you are in your training. I assume fairly early- in which case don't worry about it, it will come in time. Maintaining heading and attitude while doing other things is hard, because your brain is working so hard. They will become background tasks that you can do without thinking as you gain experience.
Indeed, try not to concentrate on them! Less is more.
If you are late on in your training then something is wrong - maybe early lessons on straight and level flight were rushed? Ask your instructor for a lesson going over this again (flying straight and level is a hard thing to learn at the place in the syllabus that it appears and it needs to be done properly, despite its apparent simplicity).
puestadesol, T6Harvard liked this
By johnm
Eventually you'll be able to interleave tasks, so that as you plan a diversion you'll check back at attitude heading and altitude every few seconds. If the aircraft is in trim and you have left the controls alone it won't change much.
JAFO, scd975, T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By Charles Hunt
Have as much worked out in your head beforehand as possible. Look at the chart beforehand, know your local area. Write stuff down.

Flying along and the instructor says, "Engine running rough, divert to Goodwood."

Where's Goodwood? Scrabble with chart, aircraft wanders off course, locate airfield on chart, find reading glasses, try to read small print of frequency etc etc etc a/c wanders off again.

Alternatively if you already have a mental picture of where Goodwood is that's a start, then as you know you'll be flying nearby you already have the frequencies jotted down on your plog, then life's a bit easier.
T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By David Wood
Being properly trimmed at all times is one of the keys, as has been said. There is really no reason why you would routinely choose to fly un-trimmed or, more likely, not-quite-trimmed. And the obvious reason why that's so important is that, as you've discovered, if you are not quite trimmed and then have your attention distracted by something, by the time you look back at the instruments you've gained 100' or wandered off by 10 degrees.

Which brings me to the next point. If you ever progress to Instrument Flying one of the core skills you will develop is the Instrument Scan, which is a constant, relentless, sytematic scan of the instruments in a way so that any divergence from the desired attitude or heading is picked up before it results in you straying off your level or course. Although we don't teach the same skill for VFR flying per se, in fact you ought to be doing much the same thing: scanning across the key instruments every few seconds as well as constantly monitoring your primary attitude indicator which, in VFR flying, is the horizon. That way you will pick up any divergence before it manifests itself into an actual change in course or level. If your attention is distracted for a few seconds (by, for example, having to re-fold the chart or change frequency) then you need to discipline yourself to return your attention to the key references for a few seconds every few seconds, which often results in you 'chunking down' the distracting action into a series of shorter actions.

If you do those two things then you will find it much easier to maintain a steady course and level.
T6Harvard liked this