Yes, it is flying in “Soup”

Had someone ask if it really is hard to fly in the clouds.

The answer is both yes, and no.

Yes, it is, if you have no instruments, or do have instruments but not the knowledge on how to use them.

There are no outside (or “Down” ) references. It’s like driving in a car with the windows painted grey. (Only in three dimensions).  Try having someone drive you around blindfolded and then try to determine north, or how fast you are going, or even level. It’s worse in an airplane. You can think you are in a  turn when you are not and try to correct for that, or think you are level when you are climbing (or descending)….you can think you are in a dive when you are in fact level…and try to correct for that dive which leads to a climb and then a stall. What you think is “down: may not be….

Like being blindfolded at a party and spun around and told to walk,…

Instruments can give you the references you need, but you gotta train yourself (get trained) to use ’em, believe in them, and act according to the information they give you. But it is like learning to walk again during that training. Your body likes to get a lot of information from your inner ear and other sense organs, but those can be fooled….so you use your eyes on your instruments to learn to fly according to the information that they give you and to ignore your inner ear and such.

You can easily kill yourself, your passengers, your airplane, and people on the ground if you fly without a visual reference while unable to process the information your instruments give you…. There’s a reason that the FAA requires “currency”….essentially practice. so you can fly on those instruments.

But once you learn, it isn’t hard, just different.

Flying an approach to a runway in the clouds is another level of difficulty, but that too just takes practice.