Sunday, February 16, 2020

The "pitch string"

Yesterday I tried out this idea I've had for a while -- the "pitch string":

I attached a piece of fishing line vertically down the airplane's centerline, with tiny beads on it every 2 inches. Now this may not be the case for everyone, but for me, if I focus on the horizon, I see two equally clear images of the string (due to parallax). My aiming point is halfway in between them. So I can use these to watch the movement of the nose as I bank into turns, and keep track of the pitch of the airplane relative to the horizon.

My contention is that something like the pitch string, plus Airball, is the ideal setup for VFR flight instruction.

Already, even after all these hours of flight (well -- I mean, 300 hours is not a lot, but it's something), it helped me notice how I need to raise the nose in turns, and be more aware of adverse yaw. My CFIs always told me to pick a point on the nose or windshield and use it as a reference. However, without specific instruction as to which point to pick, I think my eyes tend to wander and I become more heads-down. Something that gives me a specific thing to focus on is super helpful.

An improvement may be that, instead of equally spaced beads, it should have just one "bead" that the pilot can move up and down to act as a reference. For training airplanes used by many people, I can imagine a "ruler" aligned edgewise so it doesn't obscure the view, but with graduations on it so each pilot can reset the "bead" to their preferred location, might be a useful thing.

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