Getting behind the airplane...

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by bgreenhaw, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. bgreenhaw

    bgreenhaw Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Hogtown
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brandon Greenhaw
    I've heard it a lot and I get the general sentiment of the statement but don't know that I could really explain what it means. Is it that things are happening faster than you can react to/notice? Or maybe being overwhelmed by lots of stuff happening at once? How would one recognize that it was happening or can you even detect it before it happens?
    What does it mean to you aviator types?
     
  2. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    11,000
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ryan
    Simply put, that.

    Things in the cockpit are happening faster than the pilot’s skill set allows for.
     
    TCABM, Polarisguy and Tantalum like this.
  3. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    3,736
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Display name:
    FAA PHAK:

    Getting behind the aircraft
    This pitfall can be caused by allowing events or the situation to control pilot actions. A constant state of surprise at what happens next may be exhibited when the pilot is getting behind the aircraft.​
     
    zaitcev likes this.
  4. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    24,286
    Location:
    Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ed Frederick
    Getting behind the airplane is what happens to pilots when they have CFI's that teach in distance instead of time.
     
    Half Fast and Tantalum like this.
  5. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2019
    Messages:
    1,037
    Location:
    Central NYS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MuseChaser
    You are ahead of the airplane when you anticipate and are ready for what you need to do next. You are behind the airplane if you are waiting to find out what comes next.
     
  6. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Messages:
    26,689
    Location:
    Land of Savages
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    steingar
    Here's a good example. My aircraft is slick, and doesn't slow down easily. Thus I had to think well ahead to what I'm going to do next. Lets say that I delay my descent so I'm descending to pattern altitude a couple miles from the airport. I'm behind the airplane, I've got to get it slowed down and dirtied up and I haven't enough time until I hit the pattern.
     
  7. Pugs

    Pugs Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2018
    Messages:
    354
    Location:
    Maryland
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Pugs
    Information (physical (visual, aural,ect) senses and data) is coming in faster than it can be processed and acted upon mentally and physically.

    As a new pilot this can happen very quickly. As you grow more experienced and understand what is likely needed next it becomes a more subtle management issue.
     
  8. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    24,286
    Location:
    Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ed Frederick
    Like I said, doing it in distance instead of time.
     
    UngaWunga likes this.
  9. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    1,602
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    I experienced it big time when working on my multi. I had just worked a long grueling day, but had a break in the weather and time to fly after work so I pushed myself not to miss it. This would be the lesson my MEI decided to do the necessary instrument work in the twin. On my first approach, I was so focused on briefing the approach and establishing on the localizer, I never slowed or configured the airplane. My instructor slyly asked when should be start our descent, as I overflew the airport still at my initial altitude and 175 knots. We decided to knock the lesson off early and save the avgas.

    I clearly skipped the F in IMSAFE that day. My brain was miles behind the airplane, as I was still trying to intercept and establish at the initial approach fix, but the airplane was already at the airport. Fortunately it was just a training situation, day VFR with a competent instructor riding shotgun.
     
    Bobanna and 455 Bravo Uniform like this.
  10. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    5,387
    Location:
    FL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Salty
    You’re behind the airplane when your actions are based on what happened in the past rather than on what is currently happening or about to happen.

    Reacting rather than acting.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  11. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don En-Route

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2014
    Messages:
    2,807
    Location:
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Stingray Don
    When you can see the tail tie down ring. :D
     
  12. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    5,055
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    THIS

    there's a big difference in thinking you still have 15 miles to go before you need to plan your descent and approach, verse less than 4 minutes to top of descent

    **to me, personally, getting behind the airplane feels like when you are read a series of numbers faster than you can remember or copy them down
     
    SoCal RV Flyer likes this.
  13. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Messages:
    3,033
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bob Gardner


    Why is it doing that???"

    Bob
     
  14. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    24,286
    Location:
    Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ed Frederick
    Yep, 15 miles is fine when you're doing 90kts or less GS, or only need to lose 2000 feet. There's been times when I've had to start my descent 80+ miles out, and I wasn't even above 10k. Guys use their 150 training distances at 3miles a minute speeds and wonder why they have issues.
     
  15. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2015
    Messages:
    13,574
    Location:
    My own special place.
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Canis Non Grata
    When you are are being towed in a glider.
     
    ChemGuy likes this.
  16. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2015
    Messages:
    13,574
    Location:
    My own special place.
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Canis Non Grata
    Sometimes you have to be reactive. And that doesn’t necessarily mean you are behind the airplane.
     
  17. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2015
    Messages:
    13,574
    Location:
    My own special place.
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Canis Non Grata
    Not necessarily. It is typically more an issue of just not keeping up with the plane due to inattention, nonchalance, preoccupation with something else, etc. rather than being outpaced by the plane or events.
     
  18. Fallsrider

    Fallsrider Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2018
    Messages:
    550
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Fallsrider
    I guess 30 minutes is 30 minutes, whether you're in a Cub, or an SR-71.
     
    Half Fast and Tantalum like this.
  19. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    5,055
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    That's what worked for me. We're so used to distances in "real life" but using the time-to my next waypoint, etc., has helped me dramatically stay ahead of the airplane... "I'm still 60 miles from the airport, I'm fine" .. vs "oh crap, I'll be there in about 20 minutes, better get the local ATIS ready, review the airport, approaches, etc."
     
    SToL and Fallsrider like this.
  20. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    9,915
    Location:
    Olympia, Washington
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ghery Pettit
    Never let the airplane go where your mind wasn't already at least 5 to 10 minutes before.
     
    PlasticCigar, SToL and Crashnburn like this.
  21. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Messages:
    10,731
    Location:
    Chapel Hill NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mark
    An example of the opposite. I was flying with a friend in his airplane. We were heading toward Bravo at an altitude above the floor. We were a good 10 miles out and I began a gradual descent. He was concerned with how gradual it was until we dropped below the floor about 3 miles out. He was amazed.

    All I did was think, "what do I need to do now I order to be where I need to be when we got there.

    It one of the biggest challenges in teaching.
     
    RyanShort1 and Bobanna like this.
  22. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    5,387
    Location:
    FL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Salty
    I disagree. Being behind the airplane isn’t always due to mistake, poor planning, or complacency. Sometimes the crap hits the fan and you’re suddenly behind the plane.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
    Half Fast and RyanShort1 like this.
  23. A1Topgun

    A1Topgun Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2015
    Messages:
    408
    Location:
    Central Maine
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ron
  24. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2014
    Messages:
    6,632
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Unit74
    In that case, I’m behind the plane just as soon as I try and get my clearance...... boggles my mind why controllers think they need to speak at warp speed and then expect us to understand.
     
    Steve Costello likes this.
  25. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    5,055
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    Yeah... I'm not sure the point of that..
     
  26. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,809
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ari
    It’s this simple:

    If you are leading the airplane where you want it to go, you are ahead of the airplane.

    If you are following the airplane and not sure where it is taking you, you are behind the airplane.

    The latter often comes with a bonus of not recognizing that you are behind the airplane because you are too task-saturated to be self-aware.
     
  27. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Messages:
    4,519
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    hindsight2020
    Yup, just like our axiom in some mil circles: The thing about SA[situational awareness] is...if you don't have it, you won't miss it. :D
     
  28. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    3,386
    Location:
    North Creek, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Lachlan
    When the airplane does exactly what you intended it to do, on purpose, and you expect or instantly react to any/all situations as they arise, you are one with your airplane. When you are a passenger and trying to figure out how to make it do what you want/need it to do, you are behind the airplane.
     
  29. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Messages:
    10,731
    Location:
    Chapel Hill NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mark
    That's true. Crap does happen. But even then there is a difference. The pilot who ahead of the airplane is usually much more able to handle it and catch up than than the pilot who is already behind it when the crap hits.
     
  30. MFE

    MFE Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MFE
    Fixed that for you. It's a safe assumption that it takes at least a full second for the brain to receive, process, then respond to stimuli.
     
  31. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,404
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Jordan
    The plane is flying you rather than you flying the plane.
     
    Sociald likes this.
  32. TFulwider

    TFulwider Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2015
    Messages:
    179
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Terry
    I had a friend take me flying in a King Air right seat. I hadn't flown for a while (nothing bigger than a DA40) and he let me fly it with a few turns. Within about 30 seconds I was way behind the airplane and couldn't do anything more than look at the window and hold altitude. My brain couldn't spare the processing power to even begin to comprehend anything else going on with the airplane. Was definitely an eye opener!
     
    SoCal RV Flyer likes this.
  33. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2016
    Messages:
    2,633
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    SoCal RV Flyer
    That reminds me about the guy who was so far behind the airplane he wasn't even at the scene of the crash!
     
    Piperonca and SToL like this.
  34. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Messages:
    1,377
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ and Ensenada, Mexico
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    rgbeard

    Did you get your answer?
     
  35. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,417
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    chemgeek
    Proper planning prevents poor performance. Being ahead of the airplane means knowing your plan and procedures, and then executing them in the proper sequence and on time with good technique. You can exacerbate your ability to cope with task saturation by flying with poor technique. Then you have to work twice as hard to fly half as good. This becomes quickly evident in initial instrument training if you can't fly a plane by the numbers rather than chasing various instrument readings.
     
  36. Bobanna

    Bobanna Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    365
    Location:
    Omaha
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bobanna
    If you're not two steps ahead of the plane, you're probably three steps behind.
     
    SToL likes this.
  37. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    7,394
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    Way, way behind the plane

     
    woodchucker likes this.
  38. FlyBoyAndy

    FlyBoyAndy Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
    Messages:
    153
    Location:
    Syracuse, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    FlyBoyAndy
    This is a fantastic topic and one of the reasons that I believe that when I start my IFR rating that I'm going to start with a good refresher in being a pilot. I do not fly "enough" so I'm always studying or asking questions. I'm a safe pilot by doing best practices, but I find that I'm confident and ahead of the plane when I fly more. I'm better at knowing procedures quicker and ready for what is expected. When I'm not flying frequently, I find myself chasing some things, like emergency procedures or setting the plane up for what's next. Flying more certainly helps with staying in front of the plane.
     
    Bobanna likes this.
  39. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    May 7, 2017
    Messages:
    294
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    DougG
    The 'tell' for me was the radio. I'd be busy flying the plane, planning my next change (altitude, direction, speed), watching for traffic, and suddenly realize someone had said something on the radio...who was it, where were they, was it important??? Once some of the routine actions of flying turned into muscle memory, my brain had processing capacity to handle more inputs. What it is for you will depend on how your mind works. How you recognize it is going to be slightly different for everyone. Is your speed/altitude/heading changing without your active involvement? Are you busy figuring out where your next landmark is and loose track of your radio settings? You're behind the plane. It's like any physical and mental activity; the more you do it, the better you get.

    Early on I likened flying to juggling running chain saws while jumping on one foot a big rubber ball while reciting Shakespeare while your friends are throwing bricks at your head.
     
  40. Flybuddy

    Flybuddy Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2019
    Messages:
    194
    Location:
    Fort Myers FL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Flybuddy
    Getting behind the airplane

    pushing airplane.jpg
     
    Bobanna and woodchucker like this.