Flight Lessons: Focus on Instruments

Today’s flight focused on the instruments. We flew out to the Simi Valley practice area using VOR navigation. I think I’ve really got it down, I just need to focus more on remembering to verify that I’m on the right frequency.

Once we were out there, I put on the foggles that make it so that you can only see the instruments. We started off with some basic maneuvers (turns, climbs, and decent). I think I did pretty well. It was actually very similar to flying in a flight sim, so it came pretty naturally to me. One thing that I did notice is that if I didn’t focus on the attitude indicator an turn coordinator that I’d slowly get get off of level and start turning.

Once we got the basics out of the way, my instructor had me close my eyes and he did some drastic maneuvers to disorient me. I could feel the g’s of a sharp turn or a climb, and some nice steep descents. I could also notice the sun changing position as the light and shadows would pass my eyes, but usually I got very lost within the first couple seconds. The goal was that after several seconds of disorientation, I was to open my eyes and right the plane just by looking at the instruments. Again, video games paid off and I didn’t have any trouble.

The motion sickness started pretty much right away and after a few rounds of disorientation, I started to feel pretty sick. I let my instructor know that we should take a break. It was a good thing that we quit when we did because it took me a few minutes to get my stomach calmed down. We did a little more work with the foggles and then flew back to Santa Monica.

Once we got back, we did a few rounds around the pattern to work on my landings. I did better than last time, but still none of my landings were as good as I’d like. The whole flight was a lot of fun (in spite of the sickness). I’m looking forward to doing more instrument work and hopefully developing a better tolerance for motion sickness.