A friend was doing some research into instrument flying and needed to locate a key text on the subject. This article from a 1937 issue on Flight is heavily cited in academic texts, but as of several years ago is not available online because the parent organization’s archive went dark during a site upgrade in 2019 and hasn’t reemerged. London-based Flight International has also been through an acquisition (DVV Media Group out of Germany) so finding the right person to talk to was tricky.
Because it’s so difficult to find this text and it seems to be so widely cited, I wanted to publish it here to make sure that other folks would have an easier time locating the text.
“Instrument Planning The New Service Blind-Flying Panel Described” Flight August 19, 1937 p193
The New Service Blind-Flying Panel Described: Six Essential Instruments Correctly Grouped
By Wing Commander G.W. Williamson, O.B.E., M.C., M.Inst.C.E., M.I.Mech.E., M.I.E.E.
The arrangement of certain sepcialized instruments on a panel mouinted independently of the remainder is a custom which comes to us from the United States. The Pioneer Instrument Company’s catalogues of about niene years ago illustrated several such arrangements, while more recent lists refer to the “recognized primary blind-fliying instrument group” consisting of airspeed indicator, turn indicator, and climb indicator.
The new Royal Air Force blind-flying panel, which has just been adopted and is described in this article, is very comprehensive and carries the following instruments: Airspeed indicator (Smith’s Aircraft Instruments); Gyro Horizon (Sperry Gyroscope Company); climb indicator (Smith’s Aircraft Instruments); Kollsman altimeter (Kelvin, Bottomley, and Baird); Directional Gyro (Sperry Gyroscope Company); and a turn and bank indicator (Reid and Sigrist).
Even in transport aircraft which do not use a blind-flying panel a somewhat similar layout is adopted, and the two instruments most frequently scanned by the pilot occupy the centre of the dashboard. These are the Gyro Horizon and the Directional Gyro. Apart from these, the remaining four instruments might be laid out in various combinations depending upon the preference of a firm’s chief draughtsman or test pilot. Some pilots might like to have a top row consisting of an altimeter, an Horizon, and a climb indication – the three “rise and fall” instruments – together. The Artificial Horizon shows whether the machine is pitched so as to rise or fall in height, the climb indicator tells the rate at which height is being gained or lost; and the altimeter shows the amount so that the pilot knows when to stop his climb or dive.
Once a complete set of instruments such as this has been used it is surprising how a pilot comes to reply upon their indications. In conditions of poor visibility, or at night, it is probable that the pilot will consult his instruments in a regular sequence.