Use the Tape!

One solution for developing superior stick-and-rudder skills is to Use the Tape in training. This refers to a piece of tape or a grease pencil mark on the windshield, parallel to the horizon in level flight. Placed in line with the horizon and pilot’s eye, the tape becomes a constant reminder to use the sight picture, and serves as an aid to help the pilot focus and interpret attitude information during training and practice flights. It’s the ultimate in cockpit “instrumentation.”
As the line moves toward or away from the horizon, it is a reference helping the pilot see pitch attitude information on the sight picture. The tape reminds the pilot to select and use an aiming point in the sight picture. Selecting an aiming point develops an alternative habit to looking at the panel – or even ground reference – for maintaining ground track and heading. The tape draws attention to the horizon for bank attitude information, and provides indications of yaw, two essential elements of a turn.
*(note: In a cockpit with side-by-side seats, use two tapes respectively parallel and aligned with the horizon during 30-degree banks left and right. A proper sight picture in level flight places the horizon between the two tapes.)
Use the Tape is an effective way to help a pilot develop airmanship, that is, proficiency in controlling an airplane. There are only two real fundamentals of airmanship for a pilot to understand in avoiding a loss-or-control spin:
• Do not stall – airplanes do not stall, pilots cause airplanes to stall, by causing excessive deflection of the elevator, often in slow, “creeping” increments that go unnoticed until too late. Use the Tape to flag inadvertent pitch movement.
• Control yaw – You cannot control yaw if you cannot recognize yaw. Use the Tape to detect yaw, then learn to use the rudder to control yaw, whatever, the cause. Without a stall and excess yaw, the can be no spin.
Good Habits: Unload the elevator before using the ailerons. Neutral elevator avoids a stall. Proper use of the sight picture and avoiding over-control are essential factors that promote good habits – they are absolutes.
Move the controls only as much as necessary. Be smooth. When a pilot does too much stuff, other stuff happens that can result in over-control. Use the Tape to detect any tendency to over-control.
Be Patient. When a pilot must adjust or move a control, he should allow time for the airplane to adjust to the control input. He must be patient and allow the airplane to come to him. After making an adjustment or moving a control, Use the Tape and watch the airplane adjust to newly directed attitude.
Master the Turn: Technically, the fundamental skills of airmanship are essential to executing a proper turn. A properly executed turn involves controlling yaw, so before practicing turns, a pilot should learn what yaw looks like with this maneuver:
Practice turns using the cadence method. Use the Tape to develop your skill at using the sight picture and promote your awareness of over-control. After a couple of hours of practice you will have discovered airmanship. Proper control inputs at critical times will be your instinct, your habit. Master a level turn, and you will be known as a great stick, an airman.

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