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How difficult it is to REALLY fly an airplane?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Vancouver, the "wet coast"
How difficult it is to REALLY fly an airplane?
Posted by castelnuovo on Thursday, June 11, 2015 9:25 PM

I watched few episodes of Ice Pilots and Mighty Planes. The pilots always appear deadly serious, very worried, there is always something going wrong, time is always running out, people appear uptight and there is never room for error (ok, I can understand this) and somebody is always angry. In the cockpit they are always very busy with switches and dials...Flying an airplane looks like a total no fun job.

So, pilots, just how difficult it is to fly an airplane? Do you enjoy it and why? Are you ALWAYS so, so, so busy, worried, uptight and stressed? Is there a shred of reality in this "reality" piloting TV series?

I know it is a TV show and drama is required but still....

  • Member since
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Posted by modelcrazy on Thursday, June 11, 2015 9:32 PM

Not a all Castel.

It's very relaxing. You have control, all you here is the engine and the airstream. When you're not under control of a tower, you can go up, go down, turn all you want. It's like scuba diving in a way. The only time I got a little nervous is when I landed a Cessna 172 at SFO. That got a little confusing. I suppose the higher performance the higher the stress level, but with a fixed prop, fixed landing gear plane, it's very very enjoyable, and a total RUSH, IMHO.

Steve

Steve

Building a kit from your stash is like cutting a head off a Hydra, two more take it's place.

 

 

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  • From: Longmont, Colorado
Posted by Cadet Chuck on Thursday, June 11, 2015 10:14 PM

I agree with the pleasures expressed above.  But it takes a lot of ground school and a good instructor to make you a good pilot.  And you can't just sit back and enjoy the scenery- you have to constantly scan the instruments and the skies looking out for other traffic, and occasional idiot pilots (yes, there are quite a few), keep your ear on your radio, pay attention to your navigation, etc.  Actually I found this all rather stressful, so didn't do it for more than a year.  If I had advanced to an IFR license I think things would have been a lot easier.

Landing decently is the trickiest part!

Computer, did we bring batteries?.....Computer?

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  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Thursday, June 11, 2015 10:29 PM

Not a pilot but a mechanic, aircraft really don't want to be on the ground, a little wind over the wings and up ya go, once airborne, planes want to stay straight level it' up to the pilot to make the plane go where you want it to go, provided the plane has sufficient power and your not asking it to do stuff it isn't technically designed to do it really is fun. Weather plays a factor in the cockpit stress as well as other traffic in the sky but like driving a car you develop situational awareness and that stress that diminishes with experience. A lot of the "switch flipping dial spinning" stuff is Hollywood drama. Landings take ALOT of practice to do right but again experience comes into play and you come back to earth smooth as glass. A statement uttered by most pilots " take offs are optional landings are mandatory".

we're modelers it's what we do

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Posted by modelcrazy on Thursday, June 11, 2015 10:50 PM

Landings were a little nerve racking at first, but like armornut stated, you get it under control with practice, and you can actually feel what the aircraft is doing and it become instinct to know what to do. There are those occasional little surprises though, such as a sudden downdraft,  that can make you a little unsettled.

Steve

Building a kit from your stash is like cutting a head off a Hydra, two more take it's place.

 

 

http://www.spamodeler.com/forum/

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Posted by tankerbuilder on Friday, June 12, 2015 9:06 AM

Gee ;

   I found it to be a lot of fun after I mastered the basics and did My first Solo . That's what led me to buy my first plane when the cost was like a cheap but good used car .

       Then I goofed an flew in a High performance aircraft and the Bug was bigger , badder and more consumptive . I had to fly at least once a week .

     End result , Went from the old reliable J-4 from good old Piper to a Cessna 180 float / land plane .

Haven't flown since 1990 . Did I flip a lot of switches while flying ? Nope .That is pure drama . Most reality shows have to get and keep an audience . I flew for me , Not the  poor folks who think these shows are right now happening  .

    Once you are airborne in an older plane you might have toggles on the old radio set , but most upgrade to fly comfortable . Flap and aileron controls and many others have vastly improved over the years .

     My business used to be recovery of vehicles in trouble or just plain wrecked . Did I have situations like Jamie on the Ocracoke in " Road to Hell " , Sometimes , mainly , Just police asking me to get the stuff out of there as quickly as possible .Oh Yes , the Ocracoke Highway is a killer no doubt . Drove it once , Never again . I would rather fly over it in the summer and spring ! It's easier that way .

    Besides flying up there gives you a true sense of the beauty and harshness of nature ! But relaxing enough I had to learn to stay alert and awake ! I must say though , I don,t fly at all now .After a very hard , Wheels Up landing in a 747-400 I have no interest in being in that metal tube when someone I don't know is in command . The bill was 213 dead , 69 injured , recovered and free of airports ! Cause , Mechanical failure aggravated by human error !

  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, June 12, 2015 9:28 AM

Depends on the phase of flight.  Also, whether things are working right and no crisis.  Autopilots are old, being originally developed during and just after WW1.  So cruise can't be too hard.  Gentle turns, moderate climbs and descents are easy.  Very steep turns can result in loss of control because of accelerated stall.  Difficulty of landing depends on a lot of things- wind, length of runway, weight of plane, visibility, etc.  You can screw up a takeoff but it is not very hard.  Instructors may even let student take plane off on first flight (though he has hands not far from controls).

Instrument flying is fairly demanding, though newer instruments and radios ease task.  Shooting an approach to a short runway in low visibility and a lot of  turbulence is anything but relaxing.  An inflight emergency separates the good from the bad.  You cannot just pull to the side of the road, stop, and look things over.  As they say, takeoff is optional but landing is mandatory.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

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Posted by tankerbuilder on Friday, June 12, 2015 12:09 PM

Don ;  

    My instructor way back when  used to say " ANY  Landing ,  you walk away from is a good one ! ".

        he had a picture of an Eighth Air Force B-17 sitting on it's belly with almost no wings and he said that was his plane ! It's interesting that he had that  .All the crew survived including that Ball Turret gunner . They flew around till they pried him out !

      Then it got broken up on landing . Parts everywhere .  All he would say was that "  It was very hard coming in dead stick with a hurt bird ! "

  • Member since
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  • From: Virginia
Posted by Mike F6F on Friday, June 12, 2015 12:36 PM

Of course it is fun and there are times that you can't imagine doing anything else.  Going for a local flight where you know all the landmarks, etc., can be pretty easy.  Flying cross country, navigating, communicating, etc., requires some high concentration and doesn't allow for lots of sight seeing.  It is amazing how quickly one can get off course with a little inattention.

While TV and movies over emphasize some aspects, most pilots are, or have learned through training, to be somewhat pessimistic.  Another tried and true old flying saying is, " Never fly with someone braver that you."  Being prepared for problems is mandatory.

Probably one of the last activities in this country that requires complete personal responsibility is being the pilot-in-command of an aircraft.  The Federal Aviation Regs state that the pilot-in-command is the soul authority and bears the total responsibility for the safe completion of the flight.  It is really all on you, so a smart pilot always is cautious.   You train and you practice and you manage the risk.  That maybe why when watching some TV shows the pilots may seem worried, cautious and whatnot.  It isn't than flying is hard, but you need to do it right every time or someone can be hurt.  And it isn't that pilots are afraid, they just manage risks well.

Other flight axioms:

"It is better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground!"

There are Old Pilots and Bold Pilots, but there are no Old Bold Pilots.

Mike

 

"Grumman on a Navy Airplane is like Sterling on Silver."

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Posted by modelcrazy on Friday, June 12, 2015 12:56 PM

I remember my VFR check ride. After I did all the stalls, dead sticks, turns, navigation and everything else that was required of me, we went back to land. Well the airport (small single runway in northern Cal) was completely fogged in, with the occasional breaks which I could have slipped through to land. The examiner told me it was my call, I was in control of the aircraft. I decided to use and alternate airport several miles north which wasn't fogged in yet. I must have made the right decision as he signed me off, even though he had to find a ride back to his car.

Steve

Steve

Building a kit from your stash is like cutting a head off a Hydra, two more take it's place.

 

 

http://www.spamodeler.com/forum/

  • Member since
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  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Friday, June 12, 2015 7:37 PM

castelnuovo

I watched few episodes of Ice Pilots and Mighty Planes. The pilots always appear deadly serious, very worried, there is always something going wrong, time is always running out, people appear uptight and there is never room for error (ok, I can understand this) and somebody is always angry. In the cockpit they are always very busy with switches and dials...Flying an airplane looks like a total no fun job.

So, pilots, just how difficult it is to fly an airplane? Do you enjoy it and why? Are you ALWAYS so, so, so busy, worried, uptight and stressed? Is there a shred of reality in this "reality" piloting TV series?

I know it is a TV show and drama is required but still....

I think they add a bit, for "T.V. sake". 

Flying, itself, is quite simple....pull back..the houses get smaller...push forward...the houses get bigger! Controlling the airplane is easy...under ideal conditions! The hardest part, is all the knowledge that you need to keep yourself from getting in trouble...legally and/or otherwise(when things go wrong!). Spend enough time in the air, you will have issues. I only have about 550 hours, but have had an engine failure (in a twin), landing gear malfunction (had to go manual), had right flap stick in full down position, main wheel blowout on landing roll, and a "high speed" stall, that I recovered with MAYBE 2' to spare before impacting the lake (scary stuff!). The flap and gear malfunction situations, both happened on my multi-engine/commercial/instrument rating check ride!

Anyway...why not find out for yourself?!!! I recommend to anyone that is into aviation (in any shape or form), to call your local airport. Chances are, the FBO will offer flight lessons, or can point you in the right direction, to take an introductory flight. Typically, with a first lesson, the instructor will go over the basics with you, walk you through the pre-flight...instructor will taxi, and take off, then hand over the controls at around 500'. You'll fly the plane for about a 1/2hr or so, then the instructor will take over again for landing. You can figure on about 45 mins. Cost does range a bit, depending on the school and aircraft they have. The average Cessna 172 goes for around $125-150/hr, instructor $30/hr. So, an introductory flight would be in the $150 range (give or take)...and YOU are at the controls...totally worth it!!!

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  • From: Boston
Posted by mach71 on Friday, June 12, 2015 8:39 PM

Well, I can say it's all VERY exaggerated in the TV shows.

I've got almost 20,000 flight hours. More if you add in the simulators I have to go through every year.

I started on my own, joined the Airforce for 8+ years, and I've been with myI airline for 23+ years.

I've flown a lot of types of aircraft. from Cessna 150's to T-38's to C-5's and now fly 737's.

Any pilot who is tense, angry, short tempered is a bad pilot. You need to fly as unemotional as you can

otherwise you make bad decisions.

You trust your training, trust your aircraft, trust your instincts, most importantly you trust your crew.

I've had numerous weather incidents, many emergencies, and my share of other oddities. When they

come up you deal with them, first with established procedures. If that does not work you get creative

and do what you need to do.  But you do not get angry. That path leads to bad things.

  • Member since
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  • From: Houston, Texas
Posted by panzerpilot on Friday, June 12, 2015 11:00 PM

I've got somewhere around 15,000 hours and have been flying for 22 years.

There are countless variables to how laid back it is in the cockpit and how difficult it can be. Experience, weather, aircraft status, aircraft type etc. Experience is the leveler, however.

A lot of it also comes down to the person and the way they perceive things.

Personally, I like to fly with laid back, stable and calm people who are not arrogant. In my experience they are better pilots. They don't spend their time micromanaging everything and stressing themselves out so that 'when' things happen, they are already peaked.

Mach71 is right. Angry is bad and best reserved, hopefully, for drama on a TV show. Angry pilots are usually poor pilots, are likely overcompensating for something (fear, lack of skill, etc) and they isolate any help they may get in the cockpit. I do think those shows are sensationalized.

All in all, the job is really enjoyable. A lot of the stress is on the ground .

-Tom

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, June 12, 2015 11:49 PM

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Houston, Texas
Posted by panzerpilot on Saturday, June 13, 2015 11:49 AM

It's definitely a lot easier if the plane has a good Otto Pilot

-Tom

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Saturday, June 13, 2015 4:27 PM

To all the pilots on here who fly the rest of us around

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    December 2011
Posted by Chrisk-k on Saturday, June 13, 2015 4:41 PM

Depends.  Flying like a WWII ace must be very hard.

Iwata HP-CS | Iwata HP-CR | Iwata HP-M2 | H&S Evolution | Iwata Smart Jet + Sparmax Tank

  • Member since
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  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Saturday, June 13, 2015 6:27 PM

stikpusher

To all the pilots on here who fly the rest of us around

  • Member since
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  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Saturday, June 13, 2015 6:27 PM

stikpusher

  • Member since
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  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Saturday, June 13, 2015 6:28 PM

fermis

stikpusher

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    January 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Saturday, June 13, 2015 6:29 PM

See what I did there?!!!Stick out tongue

  • Member since
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Posted by patrick206 on Saturday, June 13, 2015 6:59 PM

I began in '58, age 17. While in University that had several aviation related courses, (engineering, aerospace science, etc,) I did flight training along with class work. With commercial, instrument, multi eng. and instructor ratings completed before graduation, I had the opportunity to instruct in their training program and another flight school at a different airport. First airplane flown, Taylorcraft, I think  a 65 hp engine and wood prop, on a grass runway.

I knew the Selective Service Board would be sending me a congratulatory letter soon, fortunately I was able to enlist in an Army Nat'l Guard unit. The intent was to attend flight school, which did happen. Following training I rejoined my unit and settled into the routine, eventually becoming dual rated in fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Soon it was known that there was a rather serious pilot shortage in the commercial airline industry. I sent in resumes, several sent applications and soon enough I had three to choose from.

First assignment, flight engineer on 727, then 707. Shortly I could advance to First Officer on the 727, next the DC-10, then the 747. Now to the back of the Captain line, seated again in the 727. Proceeding through the seniority system, I went from the three holer to the 757, DC-10, 747-200, then retired on the 747-400 after 33 years and sum total of 26K hours, including 23 years reserve military.

Where this all leads to is, flying will never be safe as long as you have to drive to the airport. I literally was exposed to MUCH more danger while driving, than in all of my career. Commercial flight is so professional, a mature industry and they eliminate all of the risk they can, then aggressively manage the risks they simply must live with, such as weather, aircraft mechanical issues and pilot personality traits. Some pilots fly as if they are fighting in combat, they are rough on equipment and fellow crew members, most unpleasant folks. Some pilots have yet to learn, that airplanes are indeed considered re-usable.

Once we began "Crew Environment Training," where we enforced standard crew actions in all of the situations encountered, during all phases of flights, things got considerably better. Gone were the days of macho egotists ruling the flight deck with an iron fist, the crew worked together in a co-operative spirit. The environment became as it should be, " a crew is a group of pilots working together."

Then with the advent of advanced engines, avionics, satellite navigation, flight director systems and all around better airplanes, the work load became easier, instrument approaches became just a cinch. As it has always been and I'm sure will always be, complacency, lack of attention and substandard judgement skills will exist and must always be guarded against, but overall I found the job to be fascinating, satisfying, rewarding and just plain fun.

My standard was to make sure that I knew for certain that the weather at departure point, en route and at destination was at the very least above minimal requirements, the aircraft was in full compliance with dispatch, alternate needs met, etc. To allow unacceptable risk into your decision making process, is to accept the chance of becoming part of a smoking hole in the ground. Never thought of that as anything inviting.

I would advise anyone starting a flying career, if you mainly want excitement, take up robbing banks. The days of macho swagger, fearless self image and bravado are hopefully gone for good.

I recall a poster displayed at an Army Flight School break room, "maintain thy airspeed, lest the Earth shall rise up and smite thee." Picture was of an old Curtis Jenny, perched in a tree. It didn't get there on it's own.

Patrick  

  • Member since
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  • From: MN
Posted by Nathan T on Saturday, June 13, 2015 11:55 PM

Shows like ice pilots and flying wild Alaska are the most rediculus reality shows ever to be on tv. From a real pilot's point of view that is...

 

 

  • Member since
    January 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Sunday, June 14, 2015 8:53 AM

Remember the days when Top Gun came out? I bet recruitment to join the U.S. Navy or Air Force went the roof with kids wanting to become the next Maverick.

  • Member since
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  • From: Boston
Posted by mach71 on Sunday, June 14, 2015 10:48 AM

I cant speak for the Navy, but the Airforce has never had a pilot recruitment problem at all. just the opposite in fact. They often have a pilot retention problem though.

Money, home life, and flying are usually the main reasons.

I fly MUCH MUCH more in the airlines, I don't have to go on deployment, and get paid more.

Also at the airlines I don't have any thing else to do other than flying. In the military sometimes you would spend more time on your additional duty that actually flying. That was in the '80s but I imagine that it's still the way it is.

  • Member since
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  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Sunday, June 14, 2015 1:32 PM

I was a victim of Top Gun, not as a pilot but I knew I needed to be around planes. I had my first front seat EC-135 maintenance ride a few months back, rotorwings are WAY more fun than fixedwing. I was amazed at how little input from the pilot was required to keep the aircraft straight and level, autopilot was not used and we are equipped with FADEC so once we started producing torque we just thumped along, I agree with the idea of the crew being a team, though I was not the PIC I kept an eye open for traffic and was prepared to assist with what I could in the event of an emergency,my pilot never said yea or nea about it but he also never said he didn't want me on a maintenance flight again.

we're modelers it's what we do

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Posted by GMorrison on Monday, June 15, 2015 11:16 AM

My Dad ruined it for me. 48 years with UAL.

He called it a glorified bus drivers job.

Years of boredom punctuated by a few seconds of stark terror.

Guess he wanted me to stay out of the Air Force or something.

Still, wish I had tried it out.

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    August 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Monday, June 15, 2015 2:24 PM

One more old saying that my instructor drilled into everyone until you were saying it in your sleep------"Two solid objects cannot occupy the same given space at the same given time, GRACEFULLY"  Operational word is "gracefully"

The reason behind the saying that "A midair can ruin the whole day".

BTW, when the wings fly faster than the aircraft you are in an inherantly unsafe craft..............

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Monday, June 15, 2015 2:41 PM

"Because the sky, like the sea, is unforgiving"

Ft. Benning Blackhats.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    March 2009
  • From: Yorkville, IL
Posted by wolfhammer1 on Monday, June 15, 2015 9:11 PM

I heard any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.  Any landing where you can reuse the aircraft is a great landing.  

John

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