Do pilots ever get vertigo?

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My answer to Do pilots ever get vertigo?

Answer by Thomas Zerbarini:

The short answer is yes. I enjoy the thrill of high places but I do get that vertigo feeling at first looking off a high building.

In an airplane, it can and does happen all the time. In the very beginning of flight training pilots are taught to trust what they see, not what they feel. We are taught early on to trust our instruments.

We are trained in various situations that can introduce vertigo or spatial disorientation. Many of these maneuvers have multiple purposes during training including spatial awareness and orientation. These basic maneuvers include, turns around a point, steep spiral to landing, unusual attitudes and night flying.

During Instrument Rating training (when the only spatial references are the instruments in the airplane) we also introduce partial panel, unusual attitudes, steep turns etc…

The goal in training is to hone the pilots skills in trusting their instruments and ignore the vertigo/spatial disorientation that can occur during flight. Also, smooth and controlled handling of the airplane is emphasized to reduce disorientation.

Here is a short video from Why Planes Crash that deduced how Kennedy Jr may have lost control of his plane:

This is a tragic accident and highlights the need for getting and completing good training.

One of the methods to reduce vertigo during flight is to minimize your head movement and keep your head straight. Move your eyes mostly and your head as little as possible. Do this during changes in pitch, bank attitude as well as constant turns.

Over time the feelings of spatial disorientation are minimized or go unnoticed due to proper training, experience and exposure to various levels of flying maneuvers.

Thomas Zerbarini

Do pilots ever get vertigo?


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