A Horse of a Different Color: Flying and Horses?

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I'm not an airplane

Do I look like a Cessna?

A horse of a different color

One of things I enjoy, outside of flying, is horseback riding. After a recent ride it occurred to me that there are some fascinating parallels between these two very different disciplines.

Starting with the basics; the flight controls are similar in that you use both your hands and your feet to control the horse. More exoteric, but just as important is the cerebral nature of both exercises.


right aileron right rudder

right aileron, right rudder

Good horsemanship requires that you stay ahead of the horse, lest you become a passenger; an unpleasant experience on a runaway horse and even less fun in an airplane.

Similarly, horses and airplanes require a deft touch. Small corrections are the name of the game, unless of course you aren’t getting the result you want.

Horses are sentient beings, thus they are sensitive to our moods. They can be cantankerous if you’re short-fused. I think airplanes can be the same. If you find yourself in an airplane in a maligned frame of mind, your flight will likely reflect that.

flight controls

flight controls

Finally, both of these modes of transport need maintenance. If left untended, they literally break down. Much TLC is required.

Horseback riding is certainly a different activity from flying, but both are as much art as science.


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