The August “Since You Asked” poll: Where’s your hand?

Many student pilots are mystified when something their flight instructor has taught them is overruled by another flight instructor or a designated pilot examiner.

Such was the case in the August 2012 edition of Rod Machado’s “Since You Asked?” No Name Please (there are a lot of people with that monicker who write in to Rod, it seems) recounted that another CFI at his airport insists that a pilot flying have his hand on the throttle pretty much at all times and “goes bonkers” if he catches someone removing a hand from the throttle during final approach–no matter if a trim or flap adjustment is needed. He’s even been known not to sign off a pilot for a checkout if that hand comes off the throttle.

We asked digital readers to finish this sentence: “On takeoff or on final approach, the hand that’s not on the yoke is…”

The vast majority (94 percent of you) said their hand is on the throttle, but “I will take it off to adjust flaps or trim.”

The remainder (6 percent) said they keep that hand on the the throttle, “and it stays there.” Nobody admitted to keeping that hand in their lap.

Rod’s position is that while it’s reasonable to instruct student pilots to keep their hand on the throttle during takeoff or landing, but there’s no good reason whatsoever that a student pilot–or any other pilot–not be permitted to take his or her hand off the throttle to “do his cockpit business.” Those of us who fly airplanes with non-electric trim are thankful.–Jill W. Tallman

“Since You Asked” polls appear monthly in the digital edition of Flight Training. If you’d like to switch your magazine from paper to digital at no additional charge, go here or call Member Services 800-USA-AOPA weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.

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  • Mike

    Hmmm…. Must be all airplane pilots. Since I fly helicopters I keep my other hand on the collective. =)

  • Kayak Jack

    I fly a ’63 Cessna 172. I have to put in 10 degrees of flap at end of runway, 20 degrees on base leg (unless wind is really bad), and 30-40 on final. At all other times in the pattern, my hand is on the throttle. It would be unreasonable – and near suicidal – to have my right hand on the throttle, and reach across with my left hand to do flaps or trim.
    “Anything carried to its extreme, can become ridiculous.”

  • Jami Higdon

    I remember when I was working on my private my instructor would always yell at me to keep my hand on the throttle on final. I eventually got in the habit of always leaving my hand on the throttle all the time unless I was specifically doing something (trim flaps etc.)

  • Packy

    I wonder how many of those 94% jockey the power all the way down final, instead of picking a known power setting and staying with it. I keep my hand on my knee, where I can get to the throttle in .0069 seconds if needed. Guess I’m a bad pilot.