Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

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ReserveTank
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by ReserveTank »

The Cessna procedure is the best one, in my opinion. Sit on your hands, and steer with your feet, using the turn coordinator for wings level info. Be trimmed at the top of descent. In practice, it works very well because it is simple and effective. Most students that I've worked with picked up on this technique quickly.
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dogfood
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by dogfood »

download a attitude indicator app they work surprisingly well
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digits_
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by digits_ »

pelmet wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:59 am
"It's easy to get stuck on top when your airplane fuel supply is limited. I'm so paranoid about it that I tend to err on the conservative side. A few years ago, a good friend of mine had a scary occurrence. Dr. D., as I'll call him, was cruising home to an airport outside of St. Louis from a competition in his aerobatic monoplane. He was at 10,000 feet MSL on top of a broken layer knowing he could get down through a hole at anytime, until it became overcast. The radio reported better weather ahead, so he felt pretty confident he could get down closer to home and he kept flying north. Much to his dismay, he reached his destination and the weather didn't improve—he was stuck on top of an overcast with no way to get down and not enough fuel to turn around. Dr. D., who's braver than I think I would be, had only two options—to bail out and parachute to the ground or to spin down through the overcast. Recalling maneuvers used by old Air Mail pilots, he stalled the airplane and started spinning through the clouds. He told me later he was sure he would break out fairly quickly, but the altimeter kept unwinding as he got lower and lower. After what seemed like the most unsettling eternity, he finally broke through the overcast at 1,500 feet above the ground. Quickly recovering from the spin, he found his airport, landed, then headed home for a stiff drink. I don't want to have to do that, but at least I know it's possible."

https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/articl ... h8oYchKg2w

That was actually the whole point of the thread. As I mentioned earlier, watching the altimeter unwind for what seems like a "most unsettling eternity"....be patient.

Yeah, yeah, I know...don't get in such a position in the first place(we know that).
Right. So a proficient aerobatic pilot can do that in his aerobatic airplane. Great.

I still think it is terrible advice for a pilot in "your typical general aviation trainer aircraft", read "student pilots in a cessna 172", which was specified in your original question.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by rookiepilot »

photofly wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:03 am
whistlerboy02 wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:52 pm
Photofly I always liked you, till today.
Use the whiskey compass for a heading
No instruments, and the whiskey compass is a flight instrument.

Sure: whiskey compass, steer east or west, hands off, gentle use of rudder, just like the Cessna manual says - everyone has read it. But a whiskey compass is an instrument and you don’t have one.1722B6F2-C5D5-4C2F-B0DF-E2D874A86B6E.jpeg
Yes you do, or you're illegal. Of course you know that.

Of course we can have any kind of ridiculous thread on not only stupid situations, but illegal ones too.

Carry on.

https://www.aviatortips.com/what-are-th ... fr-flight/
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by pelmet »

digits_ wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:36 am
pelmet wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:59 am
"It's easy to get stuck on top when your airplane fuel supply is limited. I'm so paranoid about it that I tend to err on the conservative side. A few years ago, a good friend of mine had a scary occurrence. Dr. D., as I'll call him, was cruising home to an airport outside of St. Louis from a competition in his aerobatic monoplane. He was at 10,000 feet MSL on top of a broken layer knowing he could get down through a hole at anytime, until it became overcast. The radio reported better weather ahead, so he felt pretty confident he could get down closer to home and he kept flying north. Much to his dismay, he reached his destination and the weather didn't improve—he was stuck on top of an overcast with no way to get down and not enough fuel to turn around. Dr. D., who's braver than I think I would be, had only two options—to bail out and parachute to the ground or to spin down through the overcast. Recalling maneuvers used by old Air Mail pilots, he stalled the airplane and started spinning through the clouds. He told me later he was sure he would break out fairly quickly, but the altimeter kept unwinding as he got lower and lower. After what seemed like the most unsettling eternity, he finally broke through the overcast at 1,500 feet above the ground. Quickly recovering from the spin, he found his airport, landed, then headed home for a stiff drink. I don't want to have to do that, but at least I know it's possible."

https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/articl ... h8oYchKg2w

That was actually the whole point of the thread. As I mentioned earlier, watching the altimeter unwind for what seems like a "most unsettling eternity"....be patient.

Yeah, yeah, I know...don't get in such a position in the first place(we know that).
I still think it is terrible advice for a pilot in "your typical general aviation trainer aircraft", read "student pilots in a cessna 172", which was specified in your original question.
I put typical GA trainer because a C150 was being used in the video but it could be a Champ or Piper without the proper IFR instruments. Or the C150 with U/S instruments. Plenty of licensed pilots rent typical GA trainers(like myself).

Actually, your advice is the terrible one. Deadly actually. You are telling pilots with no instruments except airspeed and an altimeter to descend into IMC. Good luck with that one. Why don't you try it in a C150 using a hood with artificial horizon, turn and slip, and heading indicator covered and let us know how it goes. The Cessna POH advice requires a turn coordinator.

PS: the mistaken 390 minutes of fuel in the original post was amended to the intended 30 minutes. Should have been obvious to all but I didn't proofread properly.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by digits_ »

The typical trainer is not certified for prolonged spins. If you spin from 10000 ft to 2500 ft, you will do a LOT of turns. I'm not sure a very stable aircraft (which trainers typically are) will recover in time before you hit the ground, especially not on the first time ever you do this manouevre.

If you are an experienced aerobatic pilot, sure, go ahead, it might be the best option. For the average pilot flying a trainer: probably not.

If you want to get creative and completely outside the box: how about you shut off the engine, get it in a power off stall, and don't touch the rudder? Stable aircraft like 150/172 shouldn't spin in this scenario. Once through the clouds, you can recover the stall, and -time permitting- restart the engine.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by rookiepilot »

"experienced Acrobatic pilot". (Dumb enough though to have to spin an aircraft thousands of feet to get out)

Snort.

Last I looked this was the "flight training thread".
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by pelmet »

digits_ wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:54 am
The typical trainer is not certified for prolonged spins. If you spin from 10000 ft to 2500 ft, you will do a LOT of turns. I'm not sure a very stable aircraft (which trainers typically are) will recover in time before you hit the ground, especially not on the first time ever you do this manouevre.

If you are an experienced aerobatic pilot, sure, go ahead, it might be the best option. For the average pilot flying a trainer: probably not.

If you want to get creative and completely outside the box: how about you shut off the engine, get it in a power off stall, and don't touch the rudder? Stable aircraft like 150/172 shouldn't spin in this scenario. Once through the clouds, you can recover the stall, and -time permitting- restart the engine.
Many trainers are not certified for IFR either, especially if they have no instruments. A normal descent into the clouds is likely fatal in such a situation(no instruments except airspeed and altimeter), so I am not sure what you might consider to be the best option. Would be curious to hear the details(again if already given).

2,500' should be plenty of space to recover from a spin. Probably, they are not certified for prolonged spins as that it is unnecessary, but if it can do 6 turns, I suspect it can to 60. The spin scenario is already a power off stall with no need to shut down the engine
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by digits_ »

pelmet wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:07 pm
digits_ wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:54 am
The typical trainer is not certified for prolonged spins. If you spin from 10000 ft to 2500 ft, you will do a LOT of turns. I'm not sure a very stable aircraft (which trainers typically are) will recover in time before you hit the ground, especially not on the first time ever you do this manouevre.

If you are an experienced aerobatic pilot, sure, go ahead, it might be the best option. For the average pilot flying a trainer: probably not.

If you want to get creative and completely outside the box: how about you shut off the engine, get it in a power off stall, and don't touch the rudder? Stable aircraft like 150/172 shouldn't spin in this scenario. Once through the clouds, you can recover the stall, and -time permitting- restart the engine.
Many are not certified for IFR either, especially if they have no instruments. A normal descent into the clouds is likely fatal, so I am not sure what you might consider to be the best option.
I already mentioned that my "fly through it" option was only if you had instruments. I missed that part as it was only mentioned in the title, and not your description of events. If there are no instruments and somehow no compass, then that won't work.
pelmet wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:07 pm

2,500' should be plenty of space to recover. Probably, they are not certified for prolonged spins as that it is unnecessary, but if it can do 6 turns, I suspect it can to 60. The spin scenario is already a power off stall with no need to shut down the engine
Sure it can do 60, that is not the point, the point is that, in planes with a high stability -which trainers usually are-, getting out of a spin becomes increasingly difficult the longer a spin lasts. Getting a 150 or a 172 in a stable spin that does not turn into a spiral dive is pretty hard. The average pilot in the average trainer won't get the plane into a stable spin to begin with.

My suggestion to shut down the engine is to take all yaw moments/forces out of the equation, so you shouldn't spin, but continually stall through the clouds. If you pull the nose fully up and keep the plane in a stall with neutral elevators, you'd have more chance to be in a somewhat recoverably attitude by the time you exit the clouds. In the average trainer, that would probably be the better option.

All highly hypothetical of course.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by photofly »

I wonder what happens to the fuel flow to the carb in a 60-turn spin?

Those in favour of the spin through it (I've lost track of who they are, or if there any such people) should have a look at famous video of the 26 turn spin in the Tipsy Nipper that's around on youtube; I'm not sure I could walk in a straight line after that, let alone recover from a spin, and proceed to an airport and land. Rather you than me!
digits wrote:My suggestion to shut down the engine is to take all yaw moments/forces out of the equation, so you shouldn't spin, but continually stall through the clouds.
A 172 is quite roll stable in a power off stall, with full aft elevator. It will descend about 600fpm on average, once the pitch oscillations die out. But it's also fairly roll stable in a regular power-off glide at the same rate of descent; I don't know the stall adds much to the manoeuvre. Either way you're looking at 15 minutes of descent, which is a big ask, in respect of not having to touch the ailerons.

While it's fairly easy to get stuck over a thin layer, you do have to work quite hard to get trapped over a solid 8000 - 10000 layer. Especially in 150, the service ceiling is only 12 or 13 thousand. How did you get up there in the first place? And why did you bother?
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by digits_ »

photofly wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:00 pm
digits wrote:My suggestion to shut down the engine is to take all yaw moments/forces out of the equation, so you shouldn't spin, but continually stall through the clouds.
A 172 is quite roll stable in a power off stall, with full aft elevator. It will descend about 600fpm on average, once the pitch oscillations die out. But it's also fairly roll stable in a regular power-off glide at the same rate of descent; I don't know the stall adds much to the manoeuvre.
I don't have any data, it is a bit of a hypothesis, but if you are in the stall, the effect of the wings are reduced, since they don't generate as much lift anymore. There will also be more turbulence due to the disturbed airflow. There will be less roll inputs from the ailerons. You are basically a weirdly shaped brick with the center of gravity below the wings, so it should fall, somewhat, stable down.

Another advantage of the stall would be that you keep your speed under control. Your link with the pilots falling asleep and a slow progression towards a spiral dive, could indicate that you would develop into a full spiral dive with an excessive speed after 7500 ft. The only way to deal with that concern, soo far, would be to keep the speed low. The only way to do that consitently with no outside reference would be a stall.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by photofly »

digits_ wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:09 pm
I don't have any data, it is a bit of a hypothesis, but if you are in the stall, the effect of the wings are reduced, since they don't generate as much lift anymore.
In any kind of steady flight - level, climb, or descent, stalled or not, the wings are always generating exactly the same amount of steady lift - just enough to hold up the weight of the airplane. Otherwise you would be accelerating downwards - literally, falling.

(Make an allowance for vertical components of thrust and/or drag if the flight path is terrifically steep, and another adjustment for countering the up- or down-force generated by the horizontal stabilizer, but neither of those are big corrections.)
Another advantage of the stall would be that you keep your speed under control. Your link with the pilots falling asleep and a slow progression towards a spiral dive, could indicate that you would develop into a full spiral dive with an excessive speed after 7500 ft. The only way to deal with that concern, soo far, would be to keep the speed low. The only way to do that consitently with no outside reference would be a stall.
I believe the improved lateral stability comes from a descent: the change in AoA of the inside wingtip in a descending turn acts to lift that wingtip relative to the other.

Lateral stability is reduced at low indicated airspeeds such as the one you would be flying at, at 10,000 feet - in your 172. You would likely be full throttle and seeing about 75KIAS on the airspeed indicator. Lateral stability would be identical to 75KIAS at sea level.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by digits_ »

photofly wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:15 pm
digits_ wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:09 pm
I don't have any data, it is a bit of a hypothesis, but if you are in the stall, the effect of the wings are reduced, since they don't generate as much lift anymore.
In any kind of steady flight - level, climb, or descent, stalled or not, the wings are always generating exactly the same amount of steady lift - just enough to hold up the weight of the airplane. Otherwise you would be accelerating downwards - literally, falling.
My mistake. You're absolutely right.

Let me rephrase: at stall speeds, the effect of the ailerons are reduced. An extra wobble here and there will have less consequences. You also have more turbulent airflow over them, making them much less effective, uncontrollable. You are at that point only relying on the stability of the airplane itself. Our panicky pilot trying to go down has less options to screw it up as well now, as there is less control to be exercised.

You are basically a hunk of metal, gliding/falling/moving down. Fairly stable, as the CoG is below the wings, which are also creating more drag.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by photofly »

digits_ wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:22 pm
photofly wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:15 pm
digits_ wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:09 pm
I don't have any data, it is a bit of a hypothesis, but if you are in the stall, the effect of the wings are reduced, since they don't generate as much lift anymore.
In any kind of steady flight - level, climb, or descent, stalled or not, the wings are always generating exactly the same amount of steady lift - just enough to hold up the weight of the airplane. Otherwise you would be accelerating downwards - literally, falling.
My mistake. You're absolutely right.

Let me rephrase: at stall speeds, the effect of the ailerons are reduced. An extra wobble here and there will have less consequences. You also have more turbulent airflow over them, making them much less effective, uncontrollable. You are at that point only relying on the stability of the airplane itself. Our panicky pilot trying to go down has less options to screw it up as well now, as there is less control to be exercised.

You are basically a hunk of metal, gliding/falling/moving down. Fairly stable, as the CoG is below the wings, which are also creating more drag.
I don’t think your association of ineffective ailerons with stability, is accurate.

An effect you want to encourage is roll damping. This requires unstalled airflow at the wing tips, which is where the ailerons are.

To maintain roll damping even past the point at which the wing roots stall, many aircraft are designed with washout. The washout on a 172 is quite considerable. Otherwise, the Hershey bar wing of the early cherokees generates the same effect: of all the wing, the wing tips stall last. Smooth airflow at the wing tips equates with effective ailerons. If your ailerons are ineffective you have already lost roll damping and you are into the sudden wing-drop effect such as you see with a power-on stall.

Lateral stability in an airplane doesn’t come from a parachute effect, otherwise airplanes wouldn’t spin. It does need smooth airflow over the wing tips.

Parachutes have a centre of drag high above the centre of gravity. I don’t know where the centre of drag of a falling airplane is, but I don’t think they “fall” in a stable way: a falling almost anything rotates as it falls, as does an airplane in a spin.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by AirFrame »

How does one get up above cloud in an airplane with a skid ball that could fail? I mean, I get not allowing electronic instruments, that might fail due to an electrical gremlin, or a vacuum gryo that could fail for any number of reasons. But a skid ball? All of the Cessnas have them, and they're not a system that would fail. Even "old taildraggers" like Piper Cubs had them.

You're allowing airspeed and altimeter, which are "required", but not a skid ball, which is "standard". Seems you're eliminating normally-included things just for the heck of it.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by photofly »

I understood the question to be an interesting puzzle asking whether and how can one configure an aircraft for a stable wings-level descent, or at least a recoverable descent, without reference to any instruments other than those posited. I certainly don't see it as a request for practical advice for a situation in which one might reasonably find oneself.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by 5x5 »

photofly wrote:I wonder what happens to the fuel flow to the carb in a 60-turn spin?
Funny you should ask - here's a video from wayback (2007ish) 60 Turn Spin
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by photofly »

OK. I have two questions.

Firstly... why? And secondly, how do you fit a full symphony orchestra playing Bizet in the back of a 150?

I am more interested in the answer to the second question than the first, actually.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by corethatthermal »

It isn't the most looked at instrument but it is one of the most reliable The compass combined with ASI and throttle position will get you out of the clouds ! I will go practice that the next time i'm up there
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by JL »

The 152 ha a neat characteristic where it will maintain a constant pitch and bank attitude with flap 30, 45 degree bank angle, power at 1500 and a good amount of nose up trim. It will not wander from that attitude, hands off.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by pelmet »

A bit of irony that I just came across a pilot who used a spin to get down to a lower altitude for what he perceived to be a safety reason. It was a different reason but interesting nonetheless...

It was in 1933 by a Tiger Moth pilot who later became fairly well known as seen below
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Kent

He was a low time pilot more or less experimenting in the Tiger Moth and perhaps not doing the wisest of things when he somehow got a Tiger Moth to an extremely high altitude. Now he was worried about remaining fuel based on the time it would take to get down and cooling of the engine at low pow. So he did multiple spins and recoveries down to 2500'

Quite a different situation but I found it interesting. Unfortunately, there is no article on the net.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by Beefitarian »

I know, the title specifies no instruments, but... I thought a big part of taking instrument training was to avoid stalls and spins.

Here they almost seem to be presented as some sort of cloud solution tool.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by Schooner69A »

After six decades in aviation, you learn a few things that will save your ass. This one was passed on to me by an inebriated fighter pilot in the Snake Pit in Portage La Prairie late one Friday night. Works every time…

THE CAT & DUCK METHOD OF IFR FLYING:

Today's flight age is an era highlighted with increasing emphasis
on safety. Instrumentation in the cockpit and in the traffic
control tower has reached new peaks of electronic perfection to
assist the pilot during take-offs, flight, and landings. For
whimsical contrast to these and other marvels of scientific
flight engineering, it is perhaps opportune to remind pilots of
the basic rules concerning the so-called Cat-and-Duck Method of
Flight, just in case something goes wrong with any of these new-
fangled flying instruments you find in today's aircraft.
Place a live cat on the cockpit floor. Because a cat always
remains upright, he or she can be used in lieu of a needle and
ball. Merely watch to see which way the cat leans to determine
if a wing is low and, if so, which one.
The duck is used for the instrument approach and landing.
Because any sensible duck will refuse to fly under instrument
conditions, it is only necessary to hurl your duck out of the
plane and follow her to the ground.

There are some limitations to the Cat-and-Duck Method, but
by rigidly adhering to the following check list, a degree of
success will be achieved.

1. Get a wide-awake cat. Most cats do not want to stand up
at all, at any time. It may be necessary to get a large fierce
dog in the cockpit to keep the cat at attention.

2. Make sure your cat is clean. Dirty cats will spend all
their time washing. Trying to follow a cat licking itself
usually results in a tight snap roll, followed by an inverted (or
flat) spin. You can see this is very unsanitary.

3. Old cats are best. Young cats have nine lives, but an
old used-up cat with only one life left has just as much to lose
an you do and will therefore be more dependable.

4. Beware of cowardly ducks. If the duck discovers that
you are using the cat to stay upright - or straight and level-
she will refuse to leave without the cat. Ducks are no better on
instruments than you are.

5. Be sure the duck has good eyesight. Nearsighted ducks
sometimes will go flogging off into the nearest hill. Very
short-sighted ducks will not realize they have been thrown out
and will descend to the ground in a sitting position. This
maneuver is quite difficult to follow in an airplane.

6. Use land-loving ducks. It is very discouraging to break
out and find yourself on final approach for some farm pound in
Saskatchewan. Also, the farmers there suffer from temporary insanity
when chasing crows off their corn fields and will shoot anything
that flies.

7. Choose your duck carefully. It is easy to confuse ducks
with geese because many water birds look alike. While they are
very competent instrument flyers, geese seldom want to go in the
same direction you do. If your duck heads off for the Old Wives
Swamp, you may be sure you have been given the goose.


Yer Welcome...
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by pelmet »

Might work. I have seen a cat dropped from two feet above the floor multiple times and always land on its feet.
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Re: Stuck above the clouds with no instruments

Post by photofly »

Not a very smart cat, if it sticks around to be dropped the second time. Definitely the third time.
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