The Art of Flying
I believe that flying has 2 components, the mechanical and the art.
The mechanical is what we learn first, airspeeds for different phases, power settings, bank angles, and attitudes. A combination of all these elements can be done with precision and sometimes are the highest achievement of a pilot.
The art component of flying takes these elements and adds another dimension, sometimes referred to as “feel”.
Feel also has many components. These components use all our senses including vision, hearing and tactile.
In my training I try to emphasize tuning in to your senses. Once you are aware, the senses become more recognizable.
Slow flight on the edge of a stall, or flying at the critical angle of attack. Approach the stall slowly while holding your altitude with the throttle.
As you approach the stall you will feel vibrations start, then become more evident as you approach the critical angle of attack.
When you reach the point that the air starts separating from the wing you will feel a very subtle “wobble” or a very slight “sinking sensation”.
If you relax the back pressure just a hair that feeling will go away. If you add just a hair more back pressure the nose will begin to fall.
This is the critical angle of attack for that particular power setting and configuration.
The point of this exercise is to show that you can feel the critical angle of attack and can fly the wing into and out of that realm if you pay attention to what your body is telling you. This is almost all tactile.
During a steep turn you can recognize the point at which the aircraft is about to climb or descend before it registers on the VS or Altimeter.
This is done using a combination of sight, hearing and tactile. Just before the descent starts there is a change in the attitude (the nose goes down very slightly), a change in the noise level (the wind noise increases very slightly) and there is a slight change in the G force in the seat. The correction can be made before anything registers on the instruments with just a small amount of back pressure on the elevator control.
The opposite sensations, slight increase in the nose attitude, a slight decrease in the wind noise and a slight increase in the G force felt in the seat register for a climb.
The above sensations will be present in any phase of flight from a climb, cruise, descent or glide and it all starts with the nose attitude.
Taken together all our senses combine to create the illusive sensation that is called “feel” and this can enhance our skill level in any phase of flight.
In order to experience “feel” you must first tune into your body’s sensations during flight and try to enhance your awareness of just what you are feeling while flying.