As a student pilot, one if the most important pieces of advice my private pilot instructor had ever given me, is to “chair fly”. At first I was a bit skeptical that sitting in my room, pretending to fly a plane could be beneficial to me at all. But as I tried it out and began practicing it more regularly, I quickly discovered the benefits, and still do it to this day. But what exactly is “chair flying”? Chair flying, as the name implies, is finding a chair, and pretending to fly your airplane. But it’s so much more than that! When you chair fly, you genuinely try to make yourself believe that you are in the cockpit of your aircraft, running checklists, performing maneuvers, etc. Chair flying is most beneficial when it comes to memorization. If you’ve spent any amount of time in flight training, you know that a huge chunk of being a pilot, is having the ability to memorize LOTS of information accurately and put it into practice. This is where chair flying comes in. Rather than sitting at your desk and painfully reading through your checklists and maneuver guides to memorize them, you are essentially “practicing” them. With all that to say, the following is a list of just a few reasons for you to start “chair flying”.
1. It’s used by professionals
To some, the idea of chair flying may seem like something thats really only used by student pilots to pass their check-rides and such. This couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, chair flying is used by some of the best of the best including the Blue Angels! There is actually a very interesting video displaying the ever famous fighter squadron chair flying their upcoming airshow display before going out and performing it in real life. If you’re interested in that video, ill link that here! All of that to say, my point with this is that there is obviously something to the act of chair flying if one of the best fighter squadrons on the planet uses it. In the words of my instructor: “if it’s good enough for the Blue Angels, it’s good enough for me!”.
2. It helps with memorization
Like I said before, a large amount of being a pilot is being able to memorize lots of information accurately. For many people, this may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! I believe, that for a pilot, chair flying is one of, if not the best way to memorize important information regarding your flying. Instead of trying to memorize your checklists word for word, you are associating each task with a physical action. This helps to more deeply engrain the task in your mind. If you sit down, close your eyes, and try to convince yourself that you are in the cockpit on a flight, you are essentially practicing like you would in real life, but without the risk of error. This, combined with the next reason I am about to give is why I believe chair flying is extremely useful for any pilot.
3. It’s free!
When it comes to aviation, one thing is for certain, it can be very expensive. The average cost to rent a small plane is between $150-$500 an hour! That’s not even including the cost to pay your instructor and fuel! For any aspiring pilot, this can be an absolute financial nightmare. If used correctly, chair flying can help to reduce the amount of money it takes to get your flight training! If you can practice your aviation knowledge in your bedroom on the ground, you won’t need to spend more money to practice it in the sky. Not only will it save you money, but your instructor will love you for it! If you come into class knowing your stuff, your flights will go much smoother and be a lot more fun!
In conclusion, chair flying can be a very beneficial and useful tool for any pilot in all aspects. This is proven by the pilots that use it today and reap the benefits. It will help you with your memorization and even save you some money! If you’ve got any questions or comments, feel free to reach out or drop a comment and I’ll do my best to get back to you!