Part 1 - My First Experience With Aircraft Instruments

Part 1 - My First Experience With Aircraft Instruments

Discussing avionics with pilots is like talking about which religion they belong to. There are a number of camps that most pilots fall into starting with “glass versus analogue” and finishing with one brand versus another. When I reflect upon my recent aviation journey I find that there is a lot more to the selection of avionics than first meets the eye.

Flying for me started with movies like “The Battle of Britain” where Spitfires soared across the sky chasing down German bombers at the height of the Blitz. What really entranced me about the movie were the shots from the cockpit where the instruments were clearly in view. For example, a spinning altimeter told the pilot that it was a time for a quick exit.

In the 80’s I graduated from the Battle of Britain to the infamous Tom Cruise classic “Top Gun”. I was once again thrust into the exciting world of aviation while watching Viper and Maverick battle it out for supremacy. Goose’s exit courtesy of a flat spin and avionics going crazy was a particular highlight.

So what do these two movies have in common? Dials, lots of dials. There’s nothing quite like seeing the face of a passenger climbing aboard as they survey the mass of dials, buttons, levers and knobs before them.

Let’s face it if you ever want impress a friend, family member or dare I say member of the opposite sex do your pre-flight briefing like this. “No drinking, touching controls etc”, followed by, “and yes I actually know what all of these instruments do.” I can bet that you’ll get a nervous laugh followed by comment that can be summarised as, “I’m glad that you do!”

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