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In this video taken from this question, the video shows the pilot using one hand on the yoke and one hand on something else (perhaps the throttle? I'm not a pilot). Is it normal to do landings with one hand?

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    $\begingroup$ Many pilots only use two fingers. It gives you much better control for small changes. When landing in smooth air you can set the power and trim then barely touch the yoke until the roundout. In cruise flight, you use rudder and aileron trim so that the airplane bascially flies itself with only tiny changes required. If the air is turbulent, you my need a tighter grip on the yoke, but even then you don’t need two hands. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Sep 22 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ @JScarry this should be an answer, comments are temporary and not for answers $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell Sep 23 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ What I find more suprising then what you are asking is: 1-releasing the yoke when still over 100 kts... (at 1:25) What about lateral control ? Seems to be quite windy. 2-exiting runway over 40 kt (70 km/h) (1:40). Isn't that a bit fast ? $\endgroup$ – kebs Sep 23 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ Your question isn't absurd: during a brief experience with student pilothood, I can recall I felt uneasy about guiding a C152's climbout exclusively with my weaker left hand. But experienced pilots get used to both doing so and its necessity given the right hand's other jobs, additionally the B737 in your example has hydraulic controls anyway. $\endgroup$ – Chris Stratton Sep 23 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ @jcaron an answer on the linked question points out that this is a low speed landing in gusty conditions; the control surfaces have a smaller effect and thus more amplitude and rapidity is required to counter the gusts. $\endgroup$ – Ross Presser Sep 25 at 16:01
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It is absolutely normal, in fact it's rare for a pilot to have more than one hand on the yoke at any one time as it isn't required. Movies will often show pilots manhandling yokes with two hands, but that's just Hollywood. The only time two hands is required is when extra strength is needed on the controls, for instance a hydraulic failure.

When landing a pilot will have one hand on the yoke (or stick) and one hand on the throttle, as throttle adjustments are needed to maintain the correct glide angle and initiate a go-around if required.

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  • $\begingroup$ The only time I can remember a movie having both hands on the yoke is when they are trying to pull up to not crash something. i.e. Air Force One, Bond movies, Die Hard $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Sep 22 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ The thinking is 2 hands are better than one I suppose. Add the matrix, 2 hands on the cyclic. And Airplane of course ;) $\endgroup$ – GdD Sep 22 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, there's Independence Day when they are flying the alien fighter. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Sep 22 at 20:23
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In many many aircraft, from gliders and recreational planes to fighter jets and the whole Airbus fleet beyond the A300/A310 (meaning a very sizable chunk of the airline industry), control surfaces are moved using a stick and not a yoke; in such cases, using two hands is often not even an option.

Also, you often need your other hand for something else (throttle in powered aircraft, brakes in gliders).

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    $\begingroup$ I never laid hands on a yoke, but one difference to a stick is obvious: the yoke can be turned as well as moved forwards/backwards, and with one hand it seems (from an outsider's perspective) that you could inadvertedly move it forward or backward while trying to turn it, and vice versa. $\endgroup$ – rob74 Sep 23 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ Little would preclude occasionally using one hand over the other on a center stick if it were actually needed (eg a WW2 fighter might in extreme cases see control forces of 70-90 pounds or more) though typically in modern aviation it would not be. On a sidestick that obviously doesn't work, but those are mostly fly by wire aircraft that would never have large control forces. $\endgroup$ – Chris Stratton Sep 23 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ Why is using two hands on a center stick not an option? I have many times gently added a second hand on the center stick of a glider to help reduce a tendency toward overcontrol or oscillations, including just yesterday. PS saving one hand to hold a camera out the window for a selfie is not mandatory. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Sep 23 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @rob74 If the plane is trimmed correctly, there will be resistance to moving the yoke (or stick) forward or backward. Doing so accidentally may be an issue for student pilots used to a car steering wheel that can’t move in that axis, but you adapt surprisingly quickly. It is much harder to unlearn using the wheel to turn on the ground. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Sep 23 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ 1) Ohhh... the stars pattern on the co-pilot seat! 2) How in the world did that glider pilot get his arm stuck out through that tiny opening? It looks like he'd need 3 elbows! $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Sep 24 at 13:22
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Yes, it is normal, and, in most cases, necessary. Control of he throttle is just as critical in such a low speed, low power setting environment as control of the control-surfaces. You need a hand on both. Also, using two hands on the yoke can tend to cause you to over-control the aircraft.

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Pilot here.

When I learned, I was actively taught to fly one handed, and even then not 1 hand, but a couple of fingers and a thumb. A death grip on the yoke leads to over corrections.

During T&O, your right hand is usually glued to the throttle. It only took my instructor pulling the throttle a couple of times on me during approach/takeoff to learn THAT one.

Left hand - index, middle, thumb on yoke (PTT, electric trim, etc) Right hand - everything else - throttle, flaps, trim.

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  • $\begingroup$ All true. But that doesn't mean flying with the left hand alone may not initially make a student pilot feel uneasy until they become used to it, and its necessity. $\endgroup$ – Chris Stratton Sep 23 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisStratton, it took me a while to get comfortable landing on the centre line rather than keeping to the right of it. $\endgroup$ – Ray Butterworth Sep 23 at 21:10

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