Following along from last week’s adventures of lawn-darting. A topic to consider is you will hit what you look at.
This goes back to when you learned to ride a bike, when you see a log on your path and you keep looking at it, you generally hit it. Those of you that drive motorcycles know about pot-holes and other obstacles have the same attraction.
The same thing happens when flying. When I watched my student’s head look down to some point on the ground, he dove for it and hit it. Another reason I continually remind the student to look at the horizon. I can generally attribute my own less than beautiful landings to some distraction on the runway ahead of me and losing focus on the horizon. Generally using the excuse that I wanted to test out the bungees on the Super Cub landing gear isn’t believable.
Students do this a lot on landings, they look at their aim-point. I teach to look farther down the runway earlier. A lot of times a ballooned landing was the result of a last minute realization of staring at the target and quick reaction to not impact the ground at a high rate of descent.
I see the same issue when on tow. When the student starts to focus too much on the towplane and forgets about the horizon, their bank angle, nose attitude, etc. They end up way out of position and confused on how they got to such a steep bank angle. I remind them they are in a separate aircraft and pay attention to their bank angle and the horizon, and not stare at the towplane.
When thermalling target fixation becomes an issue. I had a student watch over his right shoulder at the glider above and behind us. As he did this he pushed down with his right foot and back and left with the stick. Thankfully our lesson before was a spin lesson as we got the 2-33 to fully develop before he looked straight ahead again.
One of the radio calls when I had my Nimbus 3 was “W5, do you want to use your parachute?” After later talking to him he said he was watching me as he entered the thermal and just kept watching me as he got closer and closer and watched my wingtip as he passed by it.
You should glance at traffic, but continue to look around for other traffic and also look at where you want to go along in the same thermal track. It is crucial you do not get target fixation on one item and continue to scan.
Photo: Sean Franke
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