Sidestick control vs control yoke vs panel-mounted control wheel

Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum

Help Support Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum:

Aesquire

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Messages
2,962
Location
Rochester, NY, USA
My father took his driving test in a Ford Model T. The examiner asked if he knew how to drive it, because the examiner sure as @#$% didn't!

Automobile controls evolved, and are now standardized. Why right foot gas & left brake & clutch? Where's the starter pedal?

Seriously there is a death toll for changing controls. Look at shifters. From a lever on the wheel or sticking out of the floor they went to electronic controls for electronic controlled transmissions.

My Dodge Caravan has a lever on the dash. Up/forward is P, down goes R-N-D. Semi manual shifting is sideways bump and a "ratcheting" system like a race car, but turned 90 degrees.

My Toyota has a console shift, PRND with side ways bump imaginary gear regenerative braking. ( planetary gearset variable, no "gears" ) Mom's Prius Plug-in has a dash lever, RND with a button ( hidden behind wheel for some ) for P. It also has a sideways-down B position for regenerative braking. No imaginary gear braking. ( same hybrid planetary transmission with 2x Electric motor generators and 1x ICE )

A bunch of manufacturers went to a rotary shift knob. People died. Famously the young actor who turned the knob, got out to open a gate, and was crushed by his Jeep. I don't know how many garage walls, pets, children, and old folk were hit by that and other variations. If you aren't famous you don't get mentioned.

Yes, people were & are killed by failures to properly use the old school shift controls... For over a century.

Heck, as a professional driver, with shift levers in different places on the 3 most common work vehicles I drive, plus now 2 different locations on my personal automobiles, it's not unusual for me to be fastening my seat belt and looking in multiple directions to scan for traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists, high speed children, kittens, aliens... to wave my right hand about seeking the shifter. Eventually I'll get the brain programmed to switch modes to everything. I've only had the Toyota for 500 miles and I still put it in neutral instead of drive.

All the others, the location my hand encounters the control triggers the memorized hand motion to engage the appropriate gear.

That's ALL learned behavior. Not everyone is good at switching modes. And as said here with repetition that really should throw up a Big Red Flag in your mind, "you revert to first learned" when in crisis or a hurry or not paying attention.

So beware!

I may have spent more time thinking about motion programming than most because I have done martial arts with people who analyze and use disparate sources like Olympic training and Kung Fu monasteries to improve their understanding and teaching.

I often have to break a student of the habit of using just the one well learned move. ( In martial arts )

I do that by HITTING THEM HARD ENOUGH TO CAUSE PAIN.

In flight, it's often the planet that hits you. It hits harder than I can.
 

Aesquire

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Messages
2,962
Location
Rochester, NY, USA
Btw, the Reason for the 2 Toyotas to have different controls for regenerative braking is one is a hyper-mileing street car that may be used in the hills. The other is a crossover SUV ( tall hatchback ) that may be used off road, that needs finer control and more authority on steep slopes with bad traction.

In aviation terms, it has a fancy speed brake... Or a flap control with more settings and a "more!" position. Mom's street car has off & on " flaps". Sonex vs. Kitfox. ???

Not all analogies are great. ;)
 

Topaz

Super Moderator
Staff member
Log Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
14,751
Location
Orange County, California
Can't tell you how many times my left foot has started stomping and my right hand waving about for a gearshift but finding nothing but air. I started driving in a manual and drove one for the first 13 years.
Now try it in a British manual-shift car driving in the UK.

YOU are sitting in the right-hand seat, driving on the left-hand side of the road, clutching with your left foot as normal, shifting with the left hand :oops: while the shift pattern is the same as here in the States: 1st is up and left, or, AWAY from you. o_O

THAT took some mental gymnastics to get used to!

Conventional controls are "conventional" for a reason - they're generally the best compromise that's been found. Engineers and cockpit stylists changing things for the sake of novelty or their own notion of a "better idea" should be flogged, and that applies to both cars and airplanes.

Oh, and get off my lawn!
 

Wayne

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Messages
485
Location
Chicago, IL
I drive a little stick shift hatch back. Taught my mentee to dive in it. She was the first female to take her test in a manual transmission car that the examiner hade ever had.

My mentee over revved at a stop sign and once underway apologized to the examiner - explaining that her foot had slipped off the clutch for a second. I guess the examiner just smiled at her - no issue. Did she pass first time? Yep.
 

Dan Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
6,207
A bunch of manufacturers went to a rotary shift knob. People died. Famously the young actor who turned the knob, got out to open a gate, and was crushed by his Jeep. I don't know how many garage walls, pets, children, and old folk were hit by that and other variations. If you aren't famous you don't get mentioned.

Yes, people were & are killed by failures to properly use the old school shift controls... For over a century.
Yeah. Change Our Mind #10: rotary gear selectors are dumb

Other stupid stuff. I remember some old cars that had the starter button under the gas pedal. You floored it to start it. What Years Buick Used Switch Under Accelerator Pedal

Rambler once had the starter switch operated by pulling the column-mounted shift lever towards yourself.

1631663108224.png

More dumb stuff over the years, including the pushbutton mechanical shifters that introduced headaches of their own: Alternative gear shift levers through the years

So much silly stuff driven my marketing departments that want the cars to have unique features or to seem really "techie." When one looks back on all this stuff, most of it just seems dumb.
 

Pilot-34

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2020
Messages
1,301
Location
Most of me is in IL but my hearts in Alaska
Lol
Yes there are a lot of us who have spent some time waving at the floor
I think the first commercial vehicle that I drove
,Or rather help drive might win the contest for non-standard controls the steering wheel was in the middle of the cab it ran a shaft straight up and down that had a chain wrapped around it and bolted in to opposite ends of the wagon axle under it the clutch was a 3 foot long lever sticking up from the floor much like old John Deere tractors as were the two gearshift to the two transmissions and the brake lever for the brake lever was a sideways motion stick that ran through the floor and simply rubbed up against the drive shaft !

Noticed there were no pedals nothing for your feet to do except help you brace because each one of these items required the full force that you could muster to operate!
 

Pops

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Messages
9,641
Location
USA.
My daughter took her driving test in our OSH runner. A 1966 split window VW Bus camper. Had to parallel park and I taught her the technique and she put it in like a pro. Couple weeks later we went to OSH pulling a small foldout camper behind the bus and she drove thru Chicago.
 

aterry1067

Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Dec 18, 2020
Messages
12
Location
Phoenix Valley
Now try it in a British manual-shift car driving in the UK.

YOU are sitting in the right-hand seat, driving on the left-hand side of the road, clutching with your left foot as normal, shifting with the left hand :oops: while the shift pattern is the same as here in the States: 1st is up and left, or, AWAY from you. o_O

THAT took some mental gymnastics to get used to!

Conventional controls are "conventional" for a reason - they're generally the best compromise that's been found. Engineers and cockpit stylists changing things for the sake of novelty or their own notion of a "better idea" should be flogged, and that applies to both cars and airplanes.

Oh, and get off my lawn!

I can relate to that. Was stationed in England for a couple years and both vehicles I had were manuals. Nothing like pulling up to a stop sign and turning the wipers on high because the stalk is on the opposite side of the column.

I was also stationed in Japan, and we had a couple trucks on the flight line (and one rental truck that I used in town for a week) that were 5-speed on the column. THAT was fun to learn.
 

gtae07

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2012
Messages
2,162
Location
Savannah, Georgia
Now try it in a British manual-shift car driving in the UK.

YOU are sitting in the right-hand seat, driving on the left-hand side of the road, clutching with your left foot as normal, shifting with the left hand :oops: while the shift pattern is the same as here in the States: 1st is up and left, or, AWAY from you. o_O
I did that in Ireland about four years ago. Actually didn't have that much trouble with the shifting part itself (I used to shift for my dad a lot when I was younger, so he could keep eating with his right hand). Trying to work the turn signal and shift at the same time with the same hand was a bit much though. Dodging the bicyclists in Dublin was scary--I think everyone on two wheels there was suicidal. Had one guy grab on my car and ride through an intersection with me for a boost, and watched someone else (with a rider on the handlebars!) play chicken with a double-decker bus while laughing maniacally the whole time.
 

cluttonfred

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2010
Messages
8,586
Location
World traveler
Hehe, I drove a nine-passenger, right-hand drive, manual transmission Land Rover Defender in Kenya for four years. It was the least reliable car I have ever owned but great fun when it ran.

1631692463499.png
 

Pilot-34

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2020
Messages
1,301
Location
Most of me is in IL but my hearts in Alaska
I often deliver right hand steer semi trucks to the East Coast ports.

Lots of fun to manipulate a13 speed left handed ( stick button and lever movements).
But what’s really fun about them is I tape a sign on the left door That says radio control test, drone, or self driving vehicle and watch the reactions going down the interstate
 

PatrickW

Active Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2005
Messages
37
Location
Cresson, TX
My Dad said that on tractors they had pull on push off so if you hit something you’d naturally push throttle closed if your hand was on the throttle. Airplanes are sort of the opposite, many instances where you want to open throttle in emergency situations.
Makes sense (I fell off a tractor once when I was a kid).

When I was learing how to fly, one of the most difficult things for me to learn was "PUSH the throttle FORWARD to Go". Pretty much everything else that I had ever driven up to that point was "PULL the throttle BACK to Go". Tractors, boats, dirt bikes, snowmobiles. Heck, even my wife's brand new BMW has "Push to go reverse, Pull to go forward" on the gear shift. Pretty much everything I'd ever driven was set up so that power was cut if the persons hand wasn't on the control. Safety, I guess...

There were a lot of times early on that I'd be on final and would reduce the throttle when I meant to add power. That gets your attention.

I've been flying for nearly 20 years now. I still make a conscious and determined decision of "PUSH to Go" every time.

- Pat
 

Pops

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Messages
9,641
Location
USA.
I still thing rudder pedals are backwards. When I was going down hill in the snow with my sled when I was a kid, I pulled back on the right when I wanted to turn right. Just like my zero turn lawn mower. But after flying taildraggers for 51 years, I bought the zero turn lawn mower and it was delivered to my hanger. Opened the 44' hanger door and didn't know if I could get it out without hitting the sides of the building.
 

cluttonfred

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2010
Messages
8,586
Location
World traveler
That made me chuckle, Pops. The first time I flew a plane I was also surprised that the rudder pedals seemed backwards since I expected them to work like a sled. It only makes sense when you imagine a rudder bar in front of the pilot and cables running back to the rudder. You're not pointing the nose of the plane where you want it go to, you're pointing the nose of the rudder, which has the opposite effect.
 

speedracer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2020
Messages
164
FAR 23.779:

View attachment 115602

View attachment 115603

This applies to aircraft built under FAR 23. Since most of us learned to fly in FAR 23 airplanes, building something that doesn't fit this pattern is asking for an accident. Primacy, again: The things first learned are the most unshakeable.

A friend and I had a go-kart many years ago. Insane fun. The steering was the usual thing, with a control wheel (yoke) on a shaft that had a bellcrank at the business end that worked a shaft that went to one of the wheels, and a tie rod between the wheels. We found that we could turn that control yoke 180 degrees, putting the bellcrank down instead of up. and have the thing steer opposite to normal. We tried driving it like that. Nope. No matter how hard we tried, Primacy made it impossible. Nearly killed ourselves.
When a couple of my friends were 15 year old kids they put a flathead V8 in a model A. There was a problem fitting it in having to do with the pitman arm, I think. Instead of doing it right they ended up with reverse steering. They had a little dirt race track and with some practice they got competent at driving it that way. One of their dads and a friend were drinking beer and watching them drive around the race track. The friend says "Hey let me drive that". They explained about the reverse steering and off he went. He didn't even make it half way around the track and hit a tree.
 

Pops

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Messages
9,641
Location
USA.
That made me chuckle, Pops. The first time I flew a plane I was also surprised that the rudder pedals seemed backwards since I expected them to work like a sled. It only makes sense when you imagine a rudder bar in front of the pilot and cables running back to the rudder. You're not pointing the nose of the plane where you want it go to, you're pointing the nose of the rudder, which has the opposite effect.
Makes sense to me too. Then when I first flew a VW powered airplane, for the first 10 or so takeoffs, I keep saying "Left rudder, left rudder", being so used to using right rudder without thinking about it.

It's crazy world out there, I tell you.
 
Last edited:

Slars

Active Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2014
Messages
37
Location
Carlisle, PA / USA
Now try it in a British manual-shift car driving in the UK.

YOU are sitting in the right-hand seat, driving on the left-hand side of the road, clutching with your left foot as normal, shifting with the left hand :oops: while the shift pattern is the same as here in the States: 1st is up and left, or, AWAY from you. o_O

THAT took some mental gymnastics to get used to!

Conventional controls are "conventional" for a reason - they're generally the best compromise that's been found. Engineers and cockpit stylists changing things for the sake of novelty or their own notion of a "better idea" should be flogged, and that applies to both cars and airplanes.

Oh, and get off my lawn!
This and throw in a roundabout late at night after a long flight.
 

Pops

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Messages
9,641
Location
USA.
When a couple of my friends were 15 year old kids they put a flathead V8 in a model A. There was a problem fitting it in having to do with the pitman arm, I think. Instead of doing it right they ended up with reverse steering. They had a little dirt race track and with some practice they got competent at driving it that way. One of their dads and a friend were drinking beer and watching them drive around the race track. The friend says "Hey let me drive that". They explained about the reverse steering and off he went. He didn't even make it half way around the track and hit a tree.
When I was young I taught myself to ride a bicycle seating backwards on the seat . I still can do it.
 
Top