Chair Flying

By Aaron Wilson

What in the world is chair flying? Am I the only one who has pondered this subject?

I often here flight instructors tell their students to go chair fly. Please understand, I am a flight instructor myself and it has taken me several years (emphasis on several) to fully understand the benefits of this quickly prescribed, misunderstood, and mysterious training technique. It wasn't until I stumbled across this old Blue Angels video where some dots were connected. Take a quick minute to click on the link and watch the five minutes I have labeled.

Here is the link... watch between 31:37 to 36:30

Blue Angels...1993 video

So now I take the time to define what I mean by chair flying. I do not necessarily follow the Blue's example, but I'm close. I recommend to my students to review limitations and emergency procedures (at least one) when they prep for a chair flying session. I ask them to perform maneuvers as close to real time as possible. In other words, do not do a steep turn in one second and say it was within ACS. I ask them to slow down and feel the wind and hear the sounds.

Did they feel their wake after their maneuver?

How did they do?

Did they keep the nose from dropping? How?

I also like to ask if they had to do a go-around when they were chair flying pattern work... traffic, turbulence, etc.

At $3.25 a minute (we are flying new G-1000 equipped Cessna's) practice is not cheap. With chair flying, the objective in the actual cockpit is not learning the maneuver. The objective in the cockpit is focused on tweaking performance... and getting an updated picture of the maneuver so I can chair fly with even greater focus.

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