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Left Hand Circuits And Helicopter Pilots


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A few quotes that appeared in my inbox, #3 speaks volumes ... ;)B)



Why do command pilots always sit in the left-hand seat?


1) Many early aircraft turned better to the left due to the rotational direction of the engine propellers. This meant that landing patterns were usually designed as left-hand patterns, so the captain had to be seated on the left side in order to maintain a view of the airfield. As a consequence, convention dictates that air traffic pass left side to left side when on opposite headings. This means that if they are following an airway marked by visual means on the ground, such as landmarks or lit beacons, they have to fly on the right side of the marked path. For the captain to see the path, he would have to be sitting on the left side.


David Buley, Seaforth


2) Because, primarily, aircraft fly left-hand circuits when approaching/landing at an airport. They turn left onto final approach, so the command pilot in the left seat has the better view of the runway that he/she wishes to turn onto.


Stephen Lasker, Gosford


3) Command pilots sit on the left in fixed wing aircraft. Command pilots sit on the right in helicopters. I have been told that fixed wing command pilots sit on the left so that the engine throttles, which are between the pilots, are at the pilot's right hand, most people being right-handed. I was told by a friend of mine, who is a former Huey helicopter pilot, that the helicopter pilots sit on the right so they can use the collective (used to change the pitch of the rotors) with the left hand, and fly with the right hand. This, he alleged, was because helicopters, being able to go in more directions than fixed wing aircraft, require pilots who are far more intelligent, better trained and far handsomer than fixed wing pilots :up: and therefore need to fly with the right hand to accomplish this difficult task.


Bob Hutchinson, Foster City, CA


4) In England, Brooklands Race Track was a major scene of building and flying aeroplanes. Cars went round the circuit left-handed, and pilots did the same. Flight separation rules followed the conventions at sea, which were internationally accepted in the Convention of 1923: eg, if you followed a road or railway, you kept it on your left side; you gave way to the aircraft crossing from your right; in a head-on situation you turned right, etc. When other crew members came along, they naturally sat behind, or on the right side of the pilot. Because flying developed rapidly after 1923, the Convention rules were readily accepted world wide.


J.C. Howie, Normanhurst

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