I write with my right hand. I can make sort of intelligible scrawls with my left hand, but that is much slower for me.
The airplane I'm training in is a single-engine prop plane with the control stick (not yoke) in the center console, between the seats, rather than directly in front of the pilot. (For those curious, it's an Ikarus C42B. Here and here are some photos of what the interior looks like; your favorite search engine will show you many more, including all kinds of variations to the panel layout.)
Sitting in the left-hand seat, this means that my right hand is operating the control stick, which also has the PTT and trim controls plus the main brake handle. (I typically keep my left hand on the throttle lever, which in this aircraft is between the legs of each pilot. Yes, this means there are two throttle controls and one control stick.)
This combination presents an obvious obstacle when trying to write down things like clearances, as I'll have to either:
- use my left hand to write, resulting in difficult-to-read scribbles (certainly not ideal), or
- use my right hand to write, requiring reaching over with my left hand to the control stick (awkward), or
- use my right hand to write, letting go of the control stick and trusting that the aircraft will fly reasonably straight and level (requires much trust in the aircraft)
Any practical tips on how to handle a situation like this? (Surely I can't be the only person in this situation.)
The aircraft is equipped only for VFR; no autopilot of any kind, no IFR instruments, etc. So I'm only interested in VFR during VMC, but with the possibility of some turbulence and possibly in controlled airspace. (If I somehow manage to end up in IMC, ATC will just have to put up with me until I'm back in VMC...)
Since there seems to be some confusion, here are some examples of the kind of information I'd like to be able to write down:
- taxi instructions
- landing instructions, including e.g. runway in use
- altimeter settings (e.g. QNH value, transition level or transition altitude)
- reporting positions and altitudes ("report 3,000 feet climbing", "report BAZ")
- instructions for where to enter or exit controlled airspace, or where to transition from one controlled airspace to another ("cleared entry via FOO, 2,500 feet or below")
- transponder codes, especially when assigned a code different from the local default VFR code (
1200in the US,
7000in Europe, ...)
- cleared altitude or flight level
There's probably much more that I'm just not thinking of right now. While some of this is in a relatively relaxed environment on the ground, some of it needs to be handled in the air.
One of these days I plan on trying to simply let go of the stick for a few moments (after trimming for level flight) to see how well the plane actually maintains straight and level flight on its own with at most rudder inputs, but other than that, I'm having trouble coming up with ways of actually handling this situation. How do other pilots do it?