Real Answers from Real Pilots

Motion Sickness during Instrument and ATP Training

Hi,

My name is Kyle and I am considering doing the ATP flight training to become an airline pilot. Last year, I got my private pilot license at a Part 141 school and have flown a little bit this year currently with slightly over 100 total flight hours.

During my training, I discovered that I unfortunately struggle with bad motion sickness when training “under the hood” for any extended period of time (usually anything more than 15-20 minutes). Has anyone who has gone through ATP’s training struggled with this as well, and if so, do you have any tips or tricks? Especially considering the fast-paced nature of the program, I wouldn’t want something like this to hinder or slow my training. Thank you!

Kyle,

I am a little surprised that you are still having the motion sickness, most people seem to get over it with a few hours. As you can imagine, there is a lot of under the hood training that goes on while at ATP, so this is something that you will need to get a handle on. You could always go for a few more flights at your local school and continue to work on it. How bad is it? Does it prevent you from training?

Chris

Well I haven’t had any training yet towards an instrument certificate. I had a total of maybe 4 hours of hood time during my 75 hours of training towards my Private certificate and that time was split up, usually about 20-25 minutes at a time to practice UARs and basic instrument climbs/descents and turns. The most I did in one flight was about 45 minutes and I ended up losing my lunch on that one. So my instrument time was pretty sporadic, but I was hoping if I was exposed to it more consistently maybe the symptoms would wear off like you’re saying it should.

I would probably invest in a few more hours of exclusively instrument work at your local flight school to see if it improves. Failing that, you could always ask your AME about it, but that would be a last resort to me.

That’s a good idea. I’ll see about getting a few hours of instrument in a short period of time, maybe within a couple of weeks total, and hopefully there will be improvement.

I’ve also heard of a device called a relief band that you wear on your wrist to help with the symptoms. I certainly wouldn’t want to use that permanently, but perhaps it could be something to help mitigate the symptoms while initially getting used to a heavy amount of instrument training. I’m curious if that’s something ATP allows. I just did a quick internet search and found that it’s at least FAA-approved.

Kyle,

ATP will not have any issue with the relief band. I would absolutely try that. I have seen them for sale at my local drug store.

Chris

Kyle,

I’ve heard some people have very good results with the bands. Chris is right as this something you really need to address. The hood is one thing but when you fly for a living you can spend 8hrs in solid IMC.

Adam

@Kpounder, while my wife hasn’t done anything like what is causing your motion sickness, when she is on a plane or boat, she wears her “Barbie workout wristbands” (a.k.a. SeaBands – http://a.co/hflIw7Z – I hope that link to amazon works!)and swears by them. Pretty inexpensive and no potential for side effects like you might have with taking Phenergan or other drugs… I hope they work for you or you’re able to work through it!

So I started this topic a while back and then left it as I hadn’t really thought much about it since then, but now I am feeling determined to do something about it.

I recently purchased one of those Relief Band wrist devices on Amazon, and I’m planning on scheduling a flight with an instructor at a local flight school to test it out and really get an idea of my limits while flying under the hood both with and without the device, assuming and hoping it actually does help at least a bit. Fingers crossed!

I was planning on trying it for most basic instrument/hood training maneuvers like climbs, descents, turns, and even UARs (my least favorite thing ever) and VOR navigation. Does anyone have any other suggestions of maneuvers or training methods to test my ability to keep my stomach calm while on this flight (maybe a couple flights) or even ways to test it out without having to go on a flight? I’m still going to do at least one flight, but I really want to get a solid idea of whether this will help me out before I commit to an accelerated flight training program like ATP.

The only thing that I can think of is taking several flights at a local flight school. There is just no other way to truly test for airborne motion sickness than to get airborne.