Have you ever heard someone use the expression “chair fly”? I have heard some refer to it as “dry flying”. But what is that? And how can it save you money in your flight training?
Simply put, chair flying is exactly as it sounds! It is where you go through all of your motions and sequences of a flight maneuver, but in the comfort of your own chair on the ground.
Remember in past articles I have made mention of the fact that the airplane is a terrible classroom, and to learn as much as you can on the ground. – That is where chair flying really becomes beneficial. Whether you have already performed the maneuvers in the air, or if you are preparing to perform them for the first time, running through these motions will help so much!
So here is how it is done:
Take a seat somewhere quiet where you can focus. Take a deep breath and clear your mind. Position yourself in the chair just like you would be seated in the airplane. Don’t slouch or lean or cross your legs. Sit up straight, but your legs out and imagine that your feet are sitting on the rudder pedals. Now close your eyes and imagine that you are in the airplane about to perform whatever the maneuver is. You have your left hand on the yoke and your right hand on the throttle.
Now right there in your chair, visualize the cockpit, the controls, the instruments, and what is happening outside the airplane, and begin to go through each step. Even calling out each step along the way.
“Carb heat on. Power out to 1500. 10° of flaps. Make my radio call.” And actually make your radio calls. And visualize what is happening outside the windscreen as you perform each step along the way.
Professional airshow pilots do this before every routine, even going so far as to get up and walk through their routine, turning and banking and making rolling motions. (You can find videos of this, even with groups of flyers such as the Blue Angels doing their “chair flying” routine together as a group.)
Take it a step further even if you can. Go the airport sometime when the airplane is not being used and chair fly, but actually sitting in the airplane. Get there extra early for a lesson and take the time to sit in the airplane and put your hands on the controls without the stress of being in the air or having someone speaking to you, and just go through the motions.
Do this over and over as often as you can. And I promise, when you finally end up in the cockpit again, it will feel like you have done that maneuver so many more times because of the benefit of chair flying! And that is what saves you money. Now instead of having to spend extra time learning or relearning something, because you practiced it over and over on the ground (for FREE) that is extra time you are not having to pay for in the air (which is not free).
Keep practicing. Keep flying. Don’t give up. It will be worth it.