In several Russian fighter jets (e.g., MiG-29, Su-27) there is a white line on the stick that matches with another one on the instrument panel. Is there any reason for this?

Cockpit of a mig29 Cockpit of a mig29

Cockpit of a Su27
Cockpit of a Su27

A former flight instructor told me that it was to help pilots recover from a spin: when the two lines match, the stick is in the proper position to stop the spin. Is it true or is there any other reason?

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    $\begingroup$ The white line is painted on the instrument panel. The canopy is the curved, clear cover. I've taken the liberty of editing the question to use the correct terminology. Great question, by the way. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ @WayneConrad I was staring at the canopy for a long time and I couldn't see a line. =D $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ me too... lol :) $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ You were right, sorry about that $\endgroup$
    – Elcyr
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 6:58

2 Answers 2


I believe it is exactly what your instructor has said - it helps when regaining control of the aircraft during a spin.

The correct procedure for recovering from such a maneuver is to apply rudder in the opposite direction. Then, keeping the control column centered, move it forward (for an upright spin) or backward (for an inverted spin).

The problem is, when you're in a spinning aircraft everything outside is a blur and the G-forces involved can throw off the pilot's perception - this is of course especially true of inexperienced pilots. The white line painted on the control column in your picture was one method for helping the pilot to keep the stick centered. Having something simple to concentrate on helps immensely, and is more intuitive than looking at the yaw indicator.

Source: Flying at the Edge: 20 Years of Front-Line and Display Flying in the Cold War Era, by Tony Doyle.

Edit: This book is an autobiography of a Cold War era RAF pilot, and while it does directly mention the white line painted in the cockpit, it does so in reference to Vampire and Meteor aircraft. I cannot find any reference specifically to Russian aircraft anywhere in the book, and neither does there appear to be any picture evidence of the stripe in the cockpit of any British aircraft. Perhaps someone else can source more evidence.

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    $\begingroup$ Confirmed here in the photo legend. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ Just adding clarification (possibly) to this excellent answer. From what I read and watch on TV, excessive g-force can result in tunnel vision. So placing these tapes relatively close together can help to centre the stick when they pilot can't see anything more than a few inches in diameter. $\endgroup$
    – user12007
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ I saw a defected Chinese MiG-15 around 1963. It had a flat black interior with black instrument dials with white legends and pointers. There was a 5 cm white stripe down the center of the instrument panel, and the control stick was also white. I assumed that the pilots were instructed to "put the white stick on the white stripe" to recover from a spin. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 20:40

The white line is indeed for spin recovery, the Mig 15 procedure is to put the stick against it, count 3 revolutions, if the aircraft is not recovering then eject !


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