Hi all! I am only two days into my training and during both flights I have gotten motion sickness. Yesterday on my first flight I was able to fight through it and complete the lesson. However today it got to the point where I had to handover the controls and end the lesson. I have read other pages where pilots have had this same problem when beginning training and it went away with time. I know it’s only been my second day training, but it has caused me to become frustrated and worried that I will fall behind because I am becoming air sick. When I did my intro flight about a month ago I flew in a Piper Archer and had no issue at all with motion sickness but I am now training in a Cessna. Could the difference of aircraft be the reason? Do any of you have recommendations on what I can do to help with the motion sickness?
A Piper versus a Cessna should make no difference in this. Many pilots deal with this very thing when flying little airplanes, I am not a big fan of smaller airplanes myself and this is part of it. That being said, it should go away within a few lessons. I would take 2-4 more lessons and see where you are.
I seriously doubt it’s the aircraft type. What I am willing to bet (based on your post) is you’re trying way too hard to do well and you’re anxious. You talk about “falling behind” and being “frustrated and worried”. I have a little bit of news for you, IT’S YOUR SECOND DAY!?!?! You know what that means? You know nothing, have no skills and are nowhere near being a pilot but you climb into the cockpit and are already putting pressure on yourself to excel. That causes stress and stress and flying don’t mix. To further exacerbate the situation I’m also willing to bet you’re sitting there white-knuckled, starring at the instruments trying desperately to hold your altitude and your heading. Wow that’s alot of pressure! It’s amazing you didn’t pass out!
So here’s my recommendation, RELAX. No one expects you to be Top Gun (at least not this week). Keep your eyes moving inside and outside, breath, listen to your instructor and actually try and have fun. You should get better but these early lessons are really just an introduction, not an interview.
Thank you for the response, Chris.
Hopefully this does subside over the next few flights.
Thanks, Adam! It is very likely me being to anxious and stressing myself out. I will try to relax more on my next flight and see how that goes. I appreciate your input!
Motion sickness is common for first timers. It often happens when at least two of our three (visual, vestibular, and somatosensory) senses conflict with one another. I would guess that during your intro flight you were paying less attention to the gauges and more attention to the view. Now that you’ve begun flight training, your attention has likely been pulled inside at those gauges. Your eyes have not been trained to interpret those gauges yet so what you feel doesn’t agree with what you see.
That and rest, hydration, nutrition, and turbulence can either lessen or amplify the severity of motion sickness.
Have your instructor ease you into your instrument scan. The majority of your focus should be outside until you have adapted.
Try not to be discouraged. Many pilots struggled with motion sickness in the beginning. I was one of them. It doesn’t have to do with the plane you were in but more the conditions of the day. When it’s turbulent, if you haven’t eaten, if it’s warm in the cockpit or you had your head down looking at something inside, etc… can all play a role in becoming motion sick. Keep taking flights. Keep the cabin cool, if it gets bumpy look out at the horizon and keep the controls. It helps keep you more grounded. Keep a bag with you just in case so it keeps the anxiety down if you do start to get sick.
Thank you, Tory. We did experience some turbulence today so that could have added to the cause. I’m trying my best to keep my eyes outside of the plane but do find myself looking inside more than I probably should. Something I will definitely be striving to improve! I know scanning the horizon often and slowly will help eliminate motion sickness.
Thank you, Hannah! It feels great to hear from someone who too experienced motion sickness. The first day I thought the cause was due to me not eating lunch, I know that is never smart. So today I was sure to make time to eat something and still got sick. However, we did experience bit of turbulence during our flight. It could be a combination of many things mentioned in this thread, and hopefully it is just something that I will get over with time. In the meantime I will focus on looking out at the horizon, keeping my anxiety low and enjoying my flights!
It’s my second day as well! I was going to make a longer post in the weekend about this, but here goes.
I was sick in the air on my first day yesterday, and luckily my instructor had a bag. He was great with making me feel comfortable about it and even called me late last evening with some remedies to try.
It was either his suggestions that worked, or something psychological, but I felt perfectly fine today. Granted, yesterday was definitely more turbulent, but we did a touch and go at an uncontrolled airport, and all that rapid movement didn’t seem to cause much trouble.
A few things I did was to pick up this pack of Dramamine pills at CVS. I wasn’t sure which of the regular dosage ones might be FAA approved, so I got one which had only ginger as an active ingredient, and a non-drowsy formula. I also got a pair of wristbands that pregnant women use to overcome morning sickness I guess that worked more on the psychological front. I skipped breakfast and went in with just a glass of vegetable juice. My logic was that if there was nothing in my stomach, nothing could come out.
Maybe give one of these a shot?
Also, I found that it helped to keep my eyes outside and reassure myself that I was just sitting on a chair looking out of a window. Constantly looking at the instruments amid the engine noise, while your mind thinks about flying an airplane for the first time might be disorienting.
I am glad you got the non-drowsy version of dramamine as the regular version is not FAA approved. I would not recommend going on an empty stomach as that often makes things worse, but if it works for you, that is great.
Thanks for your input Archith! Glad to hear it went away for you. I do plan to try the bands to see if they help any. I used them on a cruise once because I had gotten sea sick the first night and after I put them on I was fine for the rest of the trip. So hopefully they can help with my airsickness too!
Update: My last two flights have gone very well! We have gone into maneuvers and yesterday logged 2.4 hours. I was able to go through the entire flight right up to the very end without getting air sick and when I did, it was barely anything (mainly a headache). It feels great to be getting over the motion sickness and it allows me to obtain so much more information while in the air!! I am using the motion sickness bands and non-drowsy Dramamine (ginger supplement) until I get a little more use to it and then will stop using them. I have also tried to relax some which is helping but did find myself getting tense especially during the stalls. My instructor is doing very well with trying to make sure I’m using finger tip pressure and not gripping and trying to over control the plane. I have seen a huge difference in just the few days since I’ve started ATP, and all I can do is strive to improve each day!
Thanks for the update and glad to hear things are improving which is a good indicator they will continue to do so. As you continue to gain confidence, trust and knowledge I believe any discomfort will become a thing of the past.
Awesome! So happy to hear! It can be so freeing to finally be able to focus on learning instead of trying not to get sick haha. Keep us updated and remember each day that you get through a flight without getting sick is a win!
Would you be able to share which bands you are using? I may want to have them as a precaution before I begin training.
Thank you! Matt
I am using the cheap acupressure wristbands that you can find at CVS, Walgreens, etc. I got mine at HEB. I have heard there are some that work well that actually send pulses to massage the median nerve but they cost over $100. Mine was about $8 or so and works just fine.
A similar question,
I have roughly 40 hours, have soloed 3 times, have done 3 XC flights, and will soon be doing my Stage 2 check, after which I have 3 solo XCs to do before my checkride. I’ve been flying since I was 14 (17 now). Never had any issues.
A few weeks ago on a XC, as we reached 4500ft, I began to feel anxious and slightly nauseous. It went away, but this worried me because I actually have a deathly fear of heights. Ironically, it’s never affected me during my training and I haven’t felt anxious on an airliner in years.
Again, I hope that this isn’t a huge deal, but I am worried about how this will affect my future flying. 4500ft is far from the highest I’ll need to fly in the future for instrument and commercial training, so hopefully I won’t have any issues.