Instrument flying guide for animal lovers

Having detailed the concept of attitude control, there is another method,
which you may prefer. For reasons that will become apparent, it is recommended
for those pilots whose airplanes have large, easily cleaned cabins. Known as the
“Cat and Duck Method” of instrument flight, it has received much publicity and
is considered to have a great deal of merit by those who have not tried it. No
reports have been received from those who did try it, and none are expected.
Pilots are invited to assess its merits objectively.

Basic rules for the C&D Method of instrument flight are fairly well known and
are extremely simple. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Place a live cat on the cockpit floor; because a cat always remains
upright. It can be used in lieu of a needle and ball. Merely watch to see which
way the cat leans to determine if a wing is low and if so, which one.

2. The duck is used for instrument approach and landing. Because of the fact
that any sensible duck will refuse to fly under instrument conditions, it is
only necessary to hurl your duck out of the plane and follow it to the ground.

There are some limitations to the Cat and Duck Method, but by rigidly adhering
to the following checklist, a degree of success will be achieved which will
surely startle you, your passengers, and even an occasional tower operator.

1. Get a wide-awake cat. Most cats do not want to stand up at all. It may be
necessary to carry a large dog in the cockpit to keep the cat at attention.

2. Make sure your cat is clean. Dirty cats will spend all their time washing.
Trying to follow a washing cat usually results in a tight snap roll followed by
an inverted spin.

3. Use old cats only. Young cats have nine lives, but old, used-up cats with
only one life left have just as much to lose as you do and will be more

4. Beware of cowardly ducks. If the duck discovers that you are
using the cat to stay upright, it will refuse to leave without the cat. Ducks
are no better in IFR conditions than you are.

5. Be sure the duck has good eyesight. Nearsighted ducks sometimes fail to
realize that they are on the gauges and go flogging off in the nearest hill.
Very nearsighted ducks will not realize that they have been thrown out and will
descend to the ground in a sitting position. This maneuver is difficult to
follow in an airplane.

6. Use land-loving ducks. It is very discouraging to break out and find
yourself on final for a rice paddy, particularly if there are duck hunters
around. Duck hunters suffer from temporary insanity while sitting in freezing
weather in the blinds and will shoot at anything that flies.

7. Choose your duck carefully. It is easy to confuse ducks with geese because
many water birds look alike. While they are very competent instrument flyers,
geese seldom want to go in the same direction as you.

GSP Digest #279
September 16, 1990