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Why do military and tandem seat planes have the throttle on the left? As seen in the photos below of an F18 Hornet and a P38 Lightning. Is there a reason for this layout?

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    $\begingroup$ It's got to be one way or the other. Why would you not want right hand on primary control (stick / yoke ). $\endgroup$ Feb 13 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ @quietflyer Most of us fly from the left seat and control the yoke with our left hand and radios, prop, throttle from with our right. I’ve flown from the right seat a few times and it feels unnatural. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Feb 13 at 16:34

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I couldn't find any documentation, but the most logical answer is most people are right hand dominant, and prefer the primary airplane controls in that hand where the placement is optional, so stick right, throttle and other secondary controls left.

Why side by side seating didn't put the PIC in the right seat like most helicopters? That's a bit of a mystery. Plane and Pilot magazine says side by side a/c put the PIC in the left side because of the need to have a better view of the runway left hand traffic patterns.

Another one is oncoming aircraft are supposed to yield to the right, so it makes sense to sit on the left to better observe oncoming a/c.

If sitting on the centerline of the airplane where none of that matters however, most pilots are going to prefer the stick in the right hand with the stronger arm muscles.

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    $\begingroup$ "Why side by side seating didn't put the PIC in the right seat like most helicopters?" - maybe was inherited from cars, without anyone really thinking it through? $\endgroup$ Feb 13 at 0:55
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    $\begingroup$ Potential ASE question: what were first (numerically significant) instances of side by side seating w/ dual controls, with shared throttle in middle, and was primary pilot on same side as driver sat in automobiles of that nation? $\endgroup$ Feb 13 at 1:00
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    $\begingroup$ I think car conventions might be part of it. Helicopters are interesting. You really need to have the stick in the right hand whichever side you sit, so turbine Bells and some others fly from the right so you don't have to switch hands to work switches and radio. Others you fly from the left and you have to switch hands. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Feb 13 at 1:12
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The reason may have to do with a desire for the pilot to maintain constant control of the aircraft with the right hand while allowing the left hand to perform cockpit tasks while not resting on the throttle. This configuration is also adopted by helicopters with the pilots right hand controlling the cyclic and the left hand controlling the collective. There is no reason that the reverse of that cannot be accomplished i.e. controlling the aircraft at all times using your left hand and performing cockpit tasks with your right.

Strangely enough, the tanker position lights on the bottom of aerial refueling tankers were originally set up your mind with the requirements of a captain sitting left seat. The lights on the left side represent positioning up or down relative to the tanker, and the lights on the right side represent positioning forward or aft of the tanker. This was done primarily because SAC bomber pilots operated large bombers with their left hand on the yoke and right hand on the throttles. So it made sense that if you wanted the guy to climb relative to the tanker you would mark the low position light on the left side back to have a pilot instinctively pull back on the yoke to rise the aircraft to align with the tanker correctly, etc. Experiences in Vietnam showed that the use of refueling tankers and tactical aircraft had been somewhat of an afterthought in cold war strategy.

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