Cat and Duck Instrument Flying
Lawrence of Meridian (1968)
- Place a live cat on the cockpit floor. Because a cat always remains upright, it can be used instead of the artificial horizon. Simply watch which way the cat leans to determine if a wing is low, and if so, which one.
- The duck is used for the instrument approach. Because any sensible duck will refuse to fly under instrument conditions, it is only necessary to hurl your duck out of the aircraft and follow it to the ground.
Limitation to Cat and Duck Method
- Get a wide-awake cat. Most cats don't want to stand up at all. It may be necessary to carry a large dog in the cockpit to make the cat pay attention.
- Make sure your cat is clean. Dirty cats spend all their time washing. Trying to follow a washing cat usually results in a snap roll followed by an inverted spin.
- Use an old cat. Young cats still have many of their nine lives left, but an old cat has just as much to lose as you do and will be more dependable.
- Avoid cowardly ducks. If the duck discovers you are using the cat to keep the wings level, it may refuse to leave without the cat. Ducks are no better at IMC than you are.
- Make sure your duck has good eyesight. Nearsighted ducks may fail to realize they are on the gauges and go flailing off into the nearest mountain. Very nearsighted ducks may not realize they have been thrown from the aircraft and will descend to the ground in a sitting position. This is very difficult to follow in an airplane.
- Use land-loving ducks. It is very discouraging to break out and find yourself on final to a rice paddy, especially if there are duck hunters around. Duck hunters suffer from temporary insanity after sitting in freezing blinds and will shoot at anything that flies.
- Finally, choose your duck carefully. It's easy to confuse ducks with geese because many waterfowl look alike. Geese are competent instrument fliers, but they seldom go where you want them to. If your duck sets off for Canada or New Zealand, you can sure you've been given the goose.