Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

20 Replies

Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Torsten Jaekel on Jun 11, 2019 1:44 am

Dear AOPA community,
I do my private license right now. We (the CFI and me) have established an evaluation system, a scoring system, in order to 'measure' my progress in flight training.
Very interesting results (based on spreadsheets and graph):
All, what I could learn, e.g. taxiing, communication, rules, math, airspace and checklists - works fine.
All what I can nail  into my brain, I can remember, recall etc. works fine and it can be improved 'easily' (I am an electronic engineer: math, knowledge, backgrounds etc. are not an issue).
But based on the 'flight big data analysis' it comes to this conclusion:
all actions which are related to control the airplane, where your muscles, arms, body sensors etc. are involved (smoothness on flight controls, pitch and power management, keep altitude and speed etc.) are 'bad' and no improvements.

How to improve my 'mechanical, body-related motion' flying skills?
I am not surprised, because I thought already this way: "how to learn why and how an airplanes flies, what are the rules, how to do the math, what is airspace ..." is not difficult for an engineer. But if you can "really fly" (in terms of 'mechanical management of the flight controls") is a completely different topic.
("engineers can design airplanes very well, they know so well why it flies, but how to fly an airplane - potentially they are not capable to do so."  ;-)  )

How could I improve my muscle and body 'intelligence' in order to fly an aircraft?
Even I am aware of the "stick and rudder" skills (I've read all books ;-)  ) - how could I 'train my body' (arms, legs, hands, fingers), not just my brain, to make smooth control inputs, to fly
professionally (I climb always in turns, I am too low or too high, I am pretty rough and late on corrections)?

Is it an issue of the age (58 years old)?
Is it an issue with health and fitness (e.g. less muscle strength, lazy on sportive exercises, unknown body motions needed)?

Sure, the longer I will practice it might improve. But what are the 'tricks'? How to focus on 'mechanical body actions', how to train my body, not just my brain and mind only?
My 'body should fly not just my mind'.
I am aware of this 'fear' since the beginning of my flight training and it is my biggest one: 'your brain knows everything, but your body is unable to turn it into flight').

Does it make sense to 'go drastic', e.g. to book some aerobatic flights?
Or is it just a question of time, keep going with small steps with my CFI, e.g. to improve steep turns, slow flight (until it seems to be 'settled' in my 'body brain')?
(and it might take much longer for my body compared to my brain in order to get it?)

Thank you for any thoughts and suggestions.
I want to be 'perfect' in all, not just the 'theoretical, written' stuff (which I could do with 100%). My enemy is my body: 'act smoothly without actively thinking', not my brain knowledge as:
'why and how to do is obvious and clear'.
'Why my body does not behave efficiently like my brain?'
Is there a 'red line' not to cross? If does not work out practically - should I stop flying?

Best regards
Torsten
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Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Ronald Levy on Jun 27, 2019 10:07 am

Nicole Applegate:
Hi Torsten

Using the sound of the engine as a cue for control/power inputs really helped me; not just aiming points and the feeling in the seat of your pants.

Just be aware that this doesn't work with a constant speed prop, and could create a negative training transfer as you move up the aircraft complexity scale.

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Nicole Applegate on Jun 28, 2019 10:56 am

Ronald that is a good point. But I wouldn't let worries about an aircraft used in the future keep you from mastering the current aircraft you are training in. That is where quality Transition Training into a new aircraft or equipment comes in.

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Gerald Skoog on Jun 28, 2019 3:14 pm

Torsten,
Three things my CFI used as a mantra for my training- 1. Altitude with power, airspeed with your yoke.  2. Make the airplane do what you want it to do. 3. Don't over think your training.  Others have mentioned this and I echo their suggestion; take your hands off the yoke/stick and relax your feet.  Feel what the plane wants to do, "listen to it".  Your post implies that you are looking for finite solutions to finite points (that is what you engineers do best! ;).  Flying is about balance, ebb and flow, not finding the exact right answer.  Your body is not the "enemy", it is your best asset.  You need to let all of the data in your brain simmer in the right side for a bit and tell the left side to take a step back.  I started when I was 51. I'm now 62. I fly old school tail-draggers. Stop worrying about correct or incorrect.  If you can use the plane again, you operated it fine... and you will get better.  There is no "destination" in becoming a partner with an aircraft.  There is only continual improving while you are on your journey together.  You are going to be a better pilot, enjoy the experience!

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Steven Graham on Jul 22, 2019 1:27 pm

Don't give up.  Don't ASSUME you will never get better.  Practice deliberately by identifying specific tasks where you or your instructor feel you are deficient.  Break control inputs into their component parts:  A level turn requires a number of distinct control inputs on different axis.  Try and determine which ones are giving you difficulties and work on JUST that one. Make sure that you do not have unintended control interactions.  There are times where aileron and elevator together are required but when you need to have a pure elevator pull you need to ensure there is no elevator mixed in as well.  There is a big difference between understanding on an intellectual level a motor skill and being able to perform it.  Motor skills are developed over an extended period of time using a combination of academic and physical input skill development.  Sports, music, dance, flying and many others are examples of motor skill's tasks that can take many years to master.  The fact that our flying contraptions operate in 4 dimensions merely adds incalculable complexity to the task.  Don't give up.  I'm fond of saying you can learn the mechanics of flight in a matter of hours but true mastery is a life's pursuit.  You can research "4 stages of motor skill development" which are 1 Unconscious Incompetence 2 Conscious Incompetence 3 Conscious Competence and 4 Unconscious Competence.  From the first stage where you can't perform the maneuver and don't understand why to stage 4 where you can perform it perfectly while carrying on an unrelated conversation is a very wide gulf.  No one I've met yet began as a master.  The struggle, and it's ultimate rewards, are one of the things I believe draws people to the pursuit and study of flying machines. Don't give up.  I also recommend keeping a more complete journal than just what is written in your log book.  This will give you the ability to look back on your progress and recognize gains that you'll have forgotten after so much time has lapsed.

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by R Michael Moore on Jul 29, 2019 8:13 pm

Ronald Levy:

Home sims won't help with stick-and-rudder control issues because their physical responses (control feel) do not replicate real aircraft.  They are great for procedures training (especially for the instrument rating) but can, in fact, create negative training for basic aircraft handling issues.

A very out of date response.   Both military and GA have already gone into sim based training in a huge way.   Proven results. 

See what Rod Machado has to say about simulation based training!   https://rodmachado.com/blogs/learning-to-fly/the-power-of-simulators

Stick and Rudder is not just the sense in the "seat of the pants" aspect.   The level of realism in simulation today is tremendous.   My Yoko Yoke, while expensive, requires my response with the Saitek Trim Wheel and I feel the control pressure fade out.   Simulation is perfect for training in the "Sight Picture".   There are a growing number of CFI's who offer training by remote screen sharing.   I found one such CFI who teaches at the highest standard of "Stick and Rudder" skills and isn't even out of his 30's yet.   

I can train for hours for a few cents of electricity.  In maneuver training, I can vary wind speed and direction at will and train in the changes in the control surfaces for the needed wind correction requirements for Turns Around a Point and S Turns along a Road.   And so much more.   

Then...I can transfer what has been learned into the real airplane.   Not unlike going from a C152 to a C172, as an example.   The real airplane does similar things but with a different feel.   

My sim is P3D with a 60" LED TV that presents the C172 panel at life size.   I use TrackIR5 for motion.   I move my head, the picture moves right along.   Saitek throttle quadrant / Saitek Trim Wheel / Discover Aviation Cessna Flap Switch / MFG Crosswind Rudder Pedals.  

When I return from this trip to Malaysia, I will implement Air Manager and a 23 inch second monitor for full touch control on the instrument panel.   Radio frequency changes will be done just like the real thing while in flight.    Emergency engine out practice at holding best glide.   With a solid simulator system the realism just gets better and better.

Check out the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center where 14  flight simulators  provide scenario based training with assistance from by your side CFI's.    https://www.eaa.org/airventure/place/EAA%20Pilot%20Proficiency%20Center?id=6b784d48a9314df3839b8c096e0f6cd0

Finally, check out Pilot Edge, where you can fly over huge areas of the USA with actual real world ATC controllers who also work on Pilot Edge in their spare time helping you learn real world radio talk and realistically practice taxi, take off and cross country fight procedures.    https://www.pilotedge.net/

Time for the "We don't need no sim" attitude to come into the modern era of super realistic capability.  Translates into the real world very well and can save thousands of dollars in training.   Proven.

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Ronald Levy on Jul 31, 2019 6:57 pm

The full flight simulators that the military uses for what you describe cost millions.  The sims available in the light GA market which come sort of close cost hundreds of thousands.  I doubt the original poster wants to invest that, but I may be wrong.  The sims you can buy for home use for under $10K lack any control feel fidelity and won't accomplish what the OP wants.

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by R Michael Moore on Aug 5, 2019 6:38 pm

Torsten...
With an investment of about $3,000 and especially the Yoko yoke I mentioned , which by the way is now in a model with improved sensors for exceptional feel, and the life size screen 60in tv  head tracking movement via Track IR5  almost all the concepts and great suggestions made here can indeed be practiced in sim.  The  G forces aside virtually all the points on level flight , bank and roll control , sight picture in turns for altitude control, wind correction, etc.  can be reviewed and genuinely improved.  And, once the skills are in place, you will not only have saved enough flight training hours to fully cover your simulator investment, but will then have the perfect platform for moving on to instrument flight training. 

in any event, you can surely achieve your goal.  A modern sim rig is just a means to get there with a substantial savings.    The cheap sim gear won't suffice.   But the setup I describe will provide huge value  now and for years to come.
 

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 7, 2019 4:04 pm

R Michael Moore:
Torsten...
With an investment of about $3,000 and especially the Yoko yoke I mentioned , which by the way is now in a model with improved sensors for exceptional feel, and the life size screen 60in tv  head tracking movement via Track IR5  almost all the concepts and great suggestions made here can indeed be practiced in sim.  The  G forces aside virtually all the points on level flight , bank and roll control , sight picture in turns for altitude control, wind correction, etc.  can be reviewed and genuinely improved. 

Does that system actually change stick forces dynamically based on speed, g-load, control deflection, and trim?  I kind of doubt it.  As I said above, it takes a full flight simulator to do that, and those cost millions, not thousands.  Furthermore, for $3K, you're not getting the full visual array needed to see the external cues that are part of the maneuvers under discussion.  You're just not going to get what the original poster needs for that kind of money..

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by R Michael Moore on Aug 12, 2019 10:35 am

Certainly there are limitations but far less than you would think.  The Yoko yoke was designed and implemented for real world flight control of an 8,000 lb UAV.   Then the exact same engineering and hardware was brought to the sim market.  The reviews of the new Yoko+ model are even more positive in the sense of realism and control feel.

Please also consider that this thread may also be of benefit to other readers as well.  

My point is simply that the substantial savings in training hours is absolutely real.   

Torsten may indeed be at the skill level where the simulator set up I describe would not provide the same savings for PPL as Rod Machado describes in the article I first referenced.  He can easily make that assessment.

The benefit for instrument training, keeping fresh on flying for pennies an hour, new airport familiarity practice before a real world flight, in sim flight debrief  via  Cloud Ahoy app and ForeFlight, ATC via PilotEdge, practice of truly random, surprise instrument and engine failures, adverse weather, and more all make this very modest investment, with the right hardware like the Yoko yoke, an invaluable aid to real world flight and flight training.

 

Re: Strick and Rudder flying - my body is my enemy

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 13, 2019 7:09 pm

R Michael Moore:
The Yoko yoke was designed and implemented for real world flight control of an 8,000 lb UAV.

The OP is not flying an 8000 lb UAV.

My point is simply that the substantial savings in training hours is absolutely real.   

In some situations, yes, but not what the OP describes.

Torsten may indeed be at the skill level where the simulator set up I describe would not provide the same savings for PPL as Rod Machado describes in the article I first referenced.  He can easily make that assessment.

Skill level is irrelevant to the OP's problem.

The benefit for instrument training,

This isn't about instrument training.


keeping fresh on flying for pennies an hour, new airport familiarity practice before a real world flight, in sim flight debrief  via  Cloud Ahoy app and ForeFlight, ATC via PilotEdge, practice of truly random, surprise instrument and engine failures, adverse weather, and more all make this very modest investment, with the right hardware like the Yoko yoke, an invaluable aid to real world flight and flight training.

Let's focus.  This is not about instrument interpretation, instrument procedures, weather, or emergencies.  The OP's issue is body feel and physical control response of a light single engine trainer in visual flight conditions.  While the various devices you describe have benefits for other issues, they will not help what the OP needs.