Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Airplane controls overlay

For emergency use
  (+9, -1)(+9, -1)
(+9, -1)
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The only experience I have of this is from films but I imagine some of what I've seen is real (ish).

The captain is down, the co-pilot is locked in the toilet with the head stewardess, the plane is running out of fuel, and the announcement has gone out 'does anyone know how to land a plane?'

When the brave hero(ine) plonks themselves into the pilot's seat one of the first things the 'tower' says is 'can you see the altitude dial, it's next to the fuel gauge below the trim adjuster, and looks a bit like the airspeed indicator'.

The white handled lever seems to come into play also.

I am yet to see a film where the plane crashes as a result of incompetence and panic but am sure that is quite likely.

I propose a large clear overlay made of thin rubber (a bit like a keyboard dust cover). It is kept in the cockpit in an obvious place and when released unfurls so that it can be placed over all controls and indicators. It has labels on it that a panic stricken 'pilot' can clearly see. The first instruction from the tower is now ' get out the big rubber overlay and place it over the controls' This they do and all is revealed. Every control needed to land the plane is labelled in large, friendly letters. The plane is brought safely down.

Mony a Mickle, Nov 21 2008

Basic Six http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Six
"They all look the same ......" [8th of 7, Nov 21 2008]


       Has this ever happened? I know of cases where small planes have been landed by amateurs but never anything large enough to need a toilet. This is an urban legend, right? Can anyone point to a single example of a pilot and a co-pilot and the navigator all going at the same time?
WcW, Nov 21 2008

       I hope it has "Don't Panic" written on it in big, friendly letters.
wagster, Nov 21 2008

       Of course ;-)
Mony a Mickle, Nov 21 2008

       A pilot qualified on light aircraft would have a fighting chance of landing a larger aircraft with a talkdown, but they would therefore already be familiar with the location and purpose of the critical instruments which are placed in a so-called "standard panel" layout. <link>   

       Landing even a light aircraft for the first time, even with a qualified instructor in the right-hand seat, can be a bowel-altering experience. Landing is THE most difficult part of flying.   

       Since many modern aircraft have full blind landing capabilities it would be better for the tower simply to pass instructions on how to activate the system.   

       Rather than a labelled rubber sheet, better a brown paper bag (without eyeholes) for the erstwhile "pilot" to put over his/her head, then get on with the humming, and rocking.
8th of 7, Nov 21 2008

       "Hitchhikers Guide to the Pilot's Seat"?   

       Anyway, yeah, big difference between a Cessna and a 747.   

       How about standard markers around basic controls? If the airspeed indicator is always ringed in red, the altimeter in green and the heading indicator in yellow you're off to a good start. What the throttle looks like and how it acts will vary by plane, but could always be white. A standard button on all radios to tune them to 121.5 would get you on the emergency frequency. A one-sheet, plastic covered "So you're having an emergency?" booklet - like the ones in the seatbacks - could get you started.
phoenix, Nov 21 2008

       Familiar concepts are helpful in times like this, so there should be a talking paperclip as well ("It looks like you're trying to escape certain death. Would you like some help with that?").
hippo, Nov 21 2008

       Much simpler would be to have the devices highlight themselves, using the existing backlights or whatever. Or a projector mounted on the ceiling, projecting an overlay.
coprocephalous, Nov 21 2008

       Alternative: A keypad + Laser pointer combination.   

       The Keypad electronics knows each item's position by the number. The person on the tower has to just give out the number of the item.. the person trying to land the plane can just key it in and the laser pointer does it's job of pointing it.   

       The Keypad + Laser can be powered from the plane , though will carry a small battery pack just in case. except for that part, the system is completely independant from the rest of the electronics on the plane.   

       The beauty of the idea is that it is quick. The number can come from a multitude of sources. The following list is ordered in a descending fashion of quickness.   

       1. The person on the tower can look up item numbers on a computer screen by moving the mouse cursor over the corresponding part on an image of the cockpit.   

       2. The person on the tower can look up the numbers on a large sheet where the numbers are overlayed on the image of the cockpit, which is kept as a backup if the computer goes down. This is still quicker than the next method because the guy in the tower knows the cockpit well.   

       3. The emergency manual in the cockpit can mention the number of the item every time it is mentioned in the book.   

       4. There can also be a complete index (both digital and printed) of items against their numbers, if the person is getting instructions from someone who does not have access to the numbers.
kamathln, Nov 21 2008

       "In the event of both pilots being incapacitated, a PlayStation controller will drop from the panel above your head"
hippo, Nov 21 2008

       Paperclip: "It looks like you are trying to write a letter..."
4whom, Nov 21 2008

       Paperclip: "It looks like you are trying to write you Last Will and Testament......"   

       We will award this a bun, because it is such a ridiculoulsy impractical, foolish and half-baked idea.
8th of 7, Nov 21 2008

       Thank you, I'm honoured.
Mony a Mickle, Nov 22 2008


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