Flying with Oz: One Pilot’s Opinion

 - October 12, 2007, 7:24 AM

As an elderly, 4,300-hour pilot with a fair amount of instrument time, I was initially skeptical about Oz. But not for long. Flying the Oz simulator, tailored to match Cessna 172 performance characteristics, was completely instinctive and effortless and I had little difficulty in interpreting the display despite the lack of numerical data. Accurate speeds, headings and altitudes were surprisingly easy to maintain, compared with actual flight in a 172. David Still, of the University of West Florida’s Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, explained that Oz presented divergences much earlier than would be detected during a conventional instrument scan, therefore requiring much smaller control inputs. Correspondingly, the degree of concentration required to fly an ILS approach was noticeably less than that needed while performing the same task with conventional instruments. And, while the 172’s envelope prevented simulation of extreme unusual attitudes, safe IMC recovery strategies from moderate upsets were instantly self evident. Quite possibly, I believe, Oz may represent the most significant step forward in instrument flying since Elmer Sperry invented the artificial horizon in the 1920s.