Why motorcycle riding is like flying

What skills are you looking to hone to be a pilot? What do you need to know to ride a motorcycle?
I do both, and it struck me that the skills I use in both are more similar to each other than anything else I can think of.

I have no idea what it means, don't know if being both a pilot and motorcyclist is better for eitehr task, or anything else. Just struck me as interesting. Some grad student please grab this as meaningless thesis material.

You feel your machine

To fly, or to ride well, you have to feel what your machine is doing. Pilots call it "seat of the pants"flying, cyclists know about it as lean angle and feeling the road.

Most automobiles and trucks try hard to insulate you from the environment, for the machine itself, and that's not what you want in a good pilot. You want someone who know the feel of their airplnae when it's doing certain things. A motorcyclist lives by the same rules a turn isn't a "point the tiller that way", it's a coordinated movement that relies on kinesthetic sense to tell you how far over you've leaned (bank angle), a great sense of feel for how much traction you still have left (slipping or skidding)

Turn it and it sticks

When you drive a car or truck, when you turn you keep a constant pressure on the wheel.

When you ride a motorcycle or fly a plane, you flick the vehicle into a turn, then release pressure, it'll keep turning as long as you'd like.

Scanning for traffic is second nature

One of the first things a pilot learns in training is that he or she is solely responsible for keeping away from other airplanes. When you're flying visually, it's all you.
Motorcyclists learn early that most cars and trucks consider them to be invisible, and they must be constantly on the alert to keep anyone from hitting them.

An active traffic scan is second nature to both bikers and pilots

Weather is never far from your mind

Every pilot cares about the weather, obsesses about it, and watches the sky both when flying and when on the ground.

If you ride a bike, you're always interested in the weather, rain showers, wind, cold, or baking heat are things you need to know about before you release the clutch.

If something goes wrong, you may be dead

Cars and trucks have a huge safety margin. Bikes and planes don't.

When you have one engine, or only two wheels, the fitness and feel of your machine is a constant awareness.

When you're driving down the freeway at 70 and the feel of the front wheel changes, even a little, you're heart starts pumping faster. When your airplane's engine makes a little hiccough when you're at 17,000 ft. and 200 MPH, your brain goes into high gear.

Something wrong in the car? Bah, wait til the next exit.

Managed risk is your daily bread When you put on your helmet and get on your bike, or when you close that cockpit door, you're assuming more risk than the average commuter. You mind is doing a constant risk-assesment as you cruise downt he road or fly down an airway, you're much more in tune with the process of going.
More to come....  




Copyright 2006 C.K. Haun






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