BUMPF! Why flying an aircraft is far harder than driving a car

Tuesday, 16 February, 2010

This harks back to my academy days, when I used to fly once, just single engine Cessna craft mind you. And why is flying far harder than driving a car? Because you are negotiating a space, not a surface.

Cars only steer in one dimension; planes steer in two. Even a level turn is hard in a plane, you have to coordinate two controls, except sometimes you deliberately uncoordinate them. Managing engine power is harder in a plane: two or three controls in a piston, not just a single pedal. And then there’s auxiliary controls you have to use occasionally: flaps, carburetor heat, fuel tank selector, etc. Even starting a plane requires carefully using four controls in the proper relationship.

BUMPF, by the way, is a first letter mnemonic reminding a pilot of the main pre-landing check points.

  • Brakes Off
  • Undercarriage Down
  • Mixture Rich lever pushed in Fully
  • Propeller lever pushed in Fully (though I think we called this Pitch)
  • Fuel sufficient for a go around (also Flaps, they had to be correctly set for landing)

Even if flying – a small craft – is relatively easy, which simple cruising at a couple of thousand feet is, landing an aircraft is no where as easy as parking a car.

Related: , , , , ,