Vertigo is an expression used by pilots. here it is given as an analog for a person who flys in the consiousness sky, he is going to crash – but id shure that he is on his way up.

And here is the analogy:

Pilots true vertigo, experienced as a feeling of dizziness and imbalance, can create or increase visual illusions. Vertigo resulting from rapid rotation of the body may be so severe that it causes quick, jerky, side-to-side movements of the eyes (a condition called “nystagmus”). This makes the surroundings appear to revolve in a direction opposite to the body’s former rotation. If you have an attack of vertigo in flight, you may find yourself unable to read your instruments because they seem to be constantly moving. During night flying, especially in extreme darkness, very little rotational movement of the body is needed to induce vertigo. Forewarned is forearmed… …Remember that illusions seem very real, and that they occur in pilots from every level of experience and skill. Recognizing the fact that your brain and eyes can play tricks on you in this manner is your best protection.

An archaic definition of disorientation literally meant “difficulty in facing the east.” To the pilot, it more often means “Which way is up?” Disorientation, or vertigo, is actually a state of temporary spatial confusion resulting from misleading information sent to the brain by various sensory organs. The body’s elaborate navigational system was superbly designed for locomotion on the ground at a normal gait, but in an aircraft, during sudden acceleration or radial flight, it can trick you.

The most difficult adjustment that you must make as you acquire flying skill is a willingness to believe that, under certain conditions, your senses can be wrong. When you are seated on an unstable moving platform at altitude (and your vision is cut off from the earth, horizon, or other fixed reference) and you are exposed to certain angular accelerations or centrifugal forces (which you cannot distinguish from gravity forces), you are susceptible to innumerable confusing, disorienting experiences.

In a level turn, you may think you are in straight flight or climbing. In a coordinated, banked turn you may believe yourself to be in straight and level flight. In recovery from a level turn, you may feel as though you are diving. In a left turn – if you suddenly bend your head forward – you may think you are falling to the left.

These alarming sensations are due primarily to misinterpretation of messages sent to the brain by the two primary sensory organs: (1) the semicircular canals of the inner ear, and (2) groups of pressure-sensitive nerve endings located mainly in the muscles and tendons. These organs tell you where you are in relation to the ground, your normal environment. When your eyes are open and your feet are on the ground, they serve you well. You have little trouble deciding which direction is up or down. In an airplane, though, these organs may send your brain inaccurate reports.

… The semicircular canals in each inner ear consist of tiny hollow tubes bent

Here’s where trouble begins! Inside the airplane, if you are unable to see… the ground and establish visual reference you are just seconds away from the famous graveyard spiral. You’re in a turn but your inner ear machinery tells you that you’re straight and level. Now, as the airspeed builds up in the turn you may think you are in a level dive and pull back on the control column. Increased back pressure on the controls will only tighten the turn and cause structural failure or a curving flight path into the ground…

…You really are straight now, but you have the sensation of turning in the OPPOSITE direction from which you have just recovered. You instinctively bank away from the imaginary turn – and the cycle starts all over again…

“Pilot error,” resulting from.. vertigo, has been identified beyond any doubt as the direct contributing cause of many accidents



Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration

May 1974

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