Today, flight schools use typically side-by-side airplanes for training.
When I learned to fly, I started on gliders. My initial training was in a tandem glider. Similar to this one, just not as modern:
The instructor was in the back seat. Communication was not a problem because gliders are quiet – not only from the outside, inside too. When it came to solo flying, the instructor just didn’t board the plane. Everything else was the same. The same seat position, the same outside view.
A year later, I took my first lessons in a powered airplane. It was a Piper Cub, J3C. This is the one, HB-OSY, my own photo from 1963 (the location is the airport of Thun, Switzerland):
Flight instruction in the J3 was a different experience. Because of CG considerations, the J3 is flown solo from the back seat. That is where the student sits from the very beginning. You can’t switch a student to the other seat for solo flight. And you would not want to.
So, the flight instructor was in the front seat, the student in the back. There is one more complication. Today, it is hard to imagine that 65 HP (Continental A-65) can generate that much noise. Communication was almost impossible.
But that’s not all. The flight instructor was placed directly in the student line of sight. He was not only blocking the student’s view to the outside. Flight and engine instruments were in the front panel – ahead of the flight instructor.
Many flight instructors at the time developed their own seating positions, some sitting almost completely sideways, allowing the student to have some view forward and be able to read the instruments.
That was not easy and when, just after WWII, side-by-side two seaters became popular, it was a huge step forward. The Cessna 140 was one of the first of these:
Later followed the Cessna 150 with tricycle landing gear which, within a few years, took over the training market. That was a really big step forward for flight training.
But today we need to take a second look.
Meanwhile another improvement has taken hold in light aviation. It is called headset and enables communication – even in noisy environments. This is one of the popular models, the David Clark Model H10:
The use of headsets on training flights makes a big difference.
But there is more to come…
In MySkyECO MS-1L, the instructor will be sitting in the back. The student flies from the front seat and feels like flying solo from day one. Just like it used to be in the old tandem glider.
And about as important, the visibility from both seats is excellent. One advantage of the tandem configuration is that the side view to the left and the right is equally good.
From a flight training perspective, MS-1L is well suited for initial training. It offers the advantage that a student feels like on a solo flight from day one.
In the Air Force tandem trainers have a long history. There is no way to train a fighter pilot in a side-by-side arrangement. Look at this T-38:
When I first saw the MS-1, I started wondering how suitable the tandem design would be as a trainer. This article clarified things a lot! I think the students would definitely enjoy sitting in the front and feeling like flying solo! Seems like you also have much more personal space this way compared to being cramped up sitting next to each other.
Very true! A Cessna 172 is 42″ wide at shoulder height. The MS-1L will be 30″ wide. In the latter case that is the room for two people to share.