I was thinking through my flying experiences when I remembered a strange sensation while I was a student.
In a Robinson R22, with about 35 hours experience, I was doing a solo flyout to a nearby airfield for a cup of coffee and a look at the weekend traffic. To get there, I had to cross a MATZ which included some permanent danger areas up to 2,500 feet. I'd transited this MATZ several times with a call to the tower but on this particular occasion, I couldn't reach anyone.
Being quite inexperienced, I didn't know if it was just unmanned, I had the wrong frequency or something else so I decided, with no particular place to go, to climb to 3,000 feet and go over the top. One lesson learned is how long it takes to get to 3,000 feet in a Robbo, especially in a climbing spiral :)
Anyone who has been in an R22 will know that the visibility is superb and as I climbed, the views were spectacular.
As I got to 3,000 feet and leveled off, I had this strange sensation. It felt as if the aircraft was balanced on top of a tall pole and the cabin had shrunk to really small. I felt as if the aircraft might tip off the top of this pole and plunge. I also found it difficult to believe the 70kts indicated since the apparent speed over the ground was so low which makes sense given that I'd only ever been that high as a passenger.
I really didn't feel comfortable although I wasn't scared, didn't have any anxiety and felt fully in control of myself but I did abandon the plan, got back down to the 1,000 feet I was more used to and completed a couple of circuits at my home field before landing.
What did I experience? Has anyone else had anything like this? I guess that it might be a symptom of vertigo but I have never had problems before or, perhaps something weird in my ear canals following the long spiral climb followed by a level out?