A flight from the wrong seat!

A friend of mine is nearing his solo cross country exercises and we thought it would be a good idea for him to get some practice in with me in the passenger seat. The main reason for this is the cost saving over taking lessons, I would still be P1 or “pilot in command” and as such I’m responsible. We discussed the Idea with our CFI Mike who strongly suggested I have a lesson with him in the pilot seat first, as this sounded sensible I booked up a lesson for the 23rd of Jan.


The day came and although wet and cold the wind was light and it was looking good to go flying. I arrived at the airfield and got the aircraft ready, warming it up while Mike and Katie walked runway 23 to check its condition as it is not often used.  Mike joined me in the aeroplane and we restarted and went through the normal checks and I taxied out to the runway. The taxiing was not too much of a problem, I lined up on 23, but as I was used to the view from the other side Mike pointed out that I was pointing to the right, I repositioned and we were ready to go. Full power and we were soon airborne, my normal markers for the climb attitude and the horizon were both missing, the horizon was missing due to cloud, I found myself chasing the needle, but not too badly and this was easily corrected.

We climbed to 3,000ft and trimmed out, next Mike wanted me to do a standard stall recovery, I had not anticipated this! I carried out a HASELL check and stalled the aircraft and recovered ok, but not as good as it could or should have been so I tried again, this time it was much better. Next Mike said OK dangerous and unusual attitudes and took control. He put it in to a nose high situation followed by a spiral dive and had me recover from both which I did.

The hour was fast coming to the end when Mike uttered the words I always hated while training, “OK where are we and how do we get back to Chatteris?” I recognises where I was, there was an old RAF airfield in sight and some lakes, but I could not remember the names so I asked for the map and soon found our location and selected the heading to take us back. This to me is the beauty of always having Skydemon with me and on, even on local flights, instead of the 2 or 3 mins pondering over the map and looking down, it would have taken a few seconds and my peripheral vision would have been out of the window, to me a much safer option, but I know not everyone will agree! throughout the flight occasionally I would go for the throttle  when I wanted the stick and vice versa, i guess it’s all down to muscle memory.

I joined the circuit downwind for 23 and the approach was ok until I turned final, I was not lined up and spent so long getting on to the centre line I decided to go around. Mike took the controls and said he would show me the prospective so he flew the circuit and did a touch and go. My turn again, this time the circuit was much better and I was lined up on final full flaps and all was going well until the round out, I got my hands confused and messed up the touchdown causing us to bounce, Mike quickly took the controls and with a squirt of power we landed and I taxied us back in.

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Approach runway 23

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Approach runway 23

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Touching down Runway 23

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It appears to be much more difficult to fly from the other side then I thought, back in the clubhouse Katie said it took her many hours to get comfortable flying from the righthand seat and mentioned a number of people doing so without undergoing instruction die each year due to getting their hands mixed up at the critical point in the approach, I’m very glad I had the lesson.

One Reply to “A flight from the wrong seat!”

  1. I’ve not heard of anyone actually being killed by switching seats without training, but as you can imagine, it does cause quite a nasty accident when people get the controls mixed up, and second hand C-42s are hard to come by 🙁 I’d recommend sticking to the left hand seat while you’re still low hours, it’s worth doing a hour or two with Mike a year anyway to extend your skills beyond GST levels, there’s always much more to learn.
    -Katie (Currently doing tail dragger conversion, gliding next 🙂 )

  2. I’ve not heard of anyone actually being killed by switching seats without training, but as you can imagine, it does cause quite a nasty accident when people get the controls mixed up, and second hand C-42s are hard to come by 🙁 I’d recommend sticking to the left hand seat while you’re still low hours, it’s worth doing a hour or two with Mike a year anyway to extend your skills beyond GST levels, there’s always much more to learn.
    -Katie (Currently doing tail dragger conversion, gliding next 🙂 )

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