My awkward pilot mate

I don't like the way he flies the aircraft with his own unique style of airmanship. For instance, even after I go to the trouble of preparing a flight plan and setting the heading in the heading bug, my mate flies several degrees off course. He also seems to fly with one wing lower than the other, like flying in a perpetual bank. My mate doesn't drive but if he took it up he'd prefer to have two wheels on the footpath. 

I'd also describe him as a flying sociopath. Given half a chance he'd fly the entire trip and sap all fun and enjoyment from the journey. Then he'd pass the controls to you on descent without so much as a 'thank you' or 'handing over'. Then on other occasions, he'll just stop flying with no notice, sometimes refusing to fly for the rest of the flight. He'll happily 'take his bat and ball and go home' when it gets too turbulent.

Instructors say that a pilot flies a heading a lot better than an autopilot can - whether heading bug, GPS, or VOR radial. That makes sense to me just because we have access to more control inputs than an autopilot and, with every flight, we gain ever-increasing amounts of that human quality of anticipation. At this stage, our awkward flying mates don't have the capacity for machine learning but this can't be too far away.

There appears to be less ambiguity in instruction about the use of all technology for student pilots. The message is 'use all of it' unless an instructor explicitly says not to. I may have benefited from more use of the AP in some of my earlier navigation flights, particularly as it was always a struggle to hold the plane level while drawing up a diversion on a map. On the other hand, the early model autopilots seemed fragile in the turbulent Tasmanian skies.

Nevertheless, a few minutes with an AP at these points during clearoffs (the checks and actions performed by a pilot at critical stages in a flight) and when preparing diversions is a great aid to multi-tasking. For long flights, the AP may be indispensable in taking the load off pilots, allowing for greater reserves for those times of greater workload. 

So I'm definitely not refusing to go flying with my awkward flying mate again but it's a friendship best in small doses.

stevew

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