The idea of becoming a pilot sounds like a dream—flying on open skies and jet-setting to different countries around the world. However, few ever make it to flight training. That’s because the path to becoming a pilot involves a lot of challenges and sacrifices, one of which is overcoming motion sickness.
Since about a third of the global population is thought to be prone to motion sickness, you could be someone who’s susceptible to that condition. Will that disqualify you from being a pilot? The answer is no. There are a lot of pilots who have found ways to manage their motion sickness. So, if being a pilot has always been your dream, don’t let something like motion sickness stop you from pursuing that dream.
In this article, you’ll learn how to deal with motion sickness during your training at flight school, leaving you to enjoy the journey in peace.
How Common Is Motion Sickness During Flight Training?
Motion sickness during flight training is more common than you might think. It’s a challenge that countless aspiring pilots face as they pursue their pilot’s license. The sensations of flight, particularly during maneuvers and training exercises, can trigger motion sickness in even the most enthusiastic learners. Fortunately, it’s a temporary issue, and with the right strategies and guidance, it can be managed effectively.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Motion Sickness?
Motion sickness can manifest in various ways, and recognizing these signs and symptoms is the first step in managing them. Here are some of the most common indicators:
A feeling of queasiness or an urge to vomit is a telltale sign of motion sickness. It can range from mild discomfort to severe nausea.
Sensations of unsteadiness or lightheadedness may accompany motion sickness.
In severe cases, individuals may experience actual vomiting, which can provide temporary relief from nausea.
Changes in blood flow can lead to pale or clammy skin.
Motion sickness can be mentally and physically exhausting, resulting in feelings of fatigue.
Some individuals may develop headaches as a result of motion sickness.
Excessive production of saliva can occur in some cases.
Cold, clammy sweats are a possible symptom of motion sickness.
Breathing may become quicker and shallower.
People with motion sickness may feel restless and find it difficult to sit still.
These symptoms can vary in intensity from person to person, and they can be particularly challenging for student pilots who are striving to maintain focus during their training flights.
What Are the Remedies and Cure for Motion Sickness?
When motion sickness strikes during a flight, it’s essential to have a plan to alleviate the discomfort promptly. Here are some remedies and actions you can take:
Focus on the Horizon
Try to keep your eyes on the horizon or a fixed point outside the aircraft. This can help reduce the sensory conflict between your inner ear and vision.
Practice deep, slow breathing to calm your body and mind.
Dehydration can worsen motion sickness, so make sure you’re adequately hydrated before your flight.
Some people find ginger, in the form of ginger candies or ginger tea, helps relieve nausea.
Consult Your Instructor
Your flight instructor is your ally in overcoming motion sickness. They can provide guidance and support during your training flights and may adjust the training program to help you gradually acclimate to the sensations of flight.
In some cases, your flight instructor or a medical professional may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to help prevent or manage motion sickness. However, these should be considered as a last resort and used under professional guidance.
How to Prevent Motion Sickness During Flight Training?
Prevention is often the best approach when it comes to motion sickness during flight training. Here are key strategies to help you prevent it:
Choose the Right Instructor
It’s important to choose not just a technically excellent flight instructor but also someone who is patient and understanding about the challenges of motion sickness. Their support and guidance are crucial to your success in overcoming your condition.
Take some of the stress off by preparing mentally for your flights. Visualize success and manage anxiety through techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises.
Manage Sensory Input
During flight training, try to manage sensory input. Avoid reading or focusing too much on instruments, as this can exacerbate the sensory conflict you’re feeling.
Hydration and Nutrition
Stay well-hydrated and avoid heavy, greasy meals before your flight. Instead, opt for light, easily digestible foods.
If you feel motion sickness creeping in during a flight, don’t hesitate to communicate with your instructor and take short breaks as needed.
Over time, as you gain more experience and become accustomed to the sensations of flight, your susceptibility to motion sickness is likely to decrease.
Pursuing your pilot’s license is an ambitious and rewarding endeavor. While motion sickness during flight training is a common challenge, it’s important to remember that it’s temporary and conquerable. You can overcome this hurdle through the right preparation and management. Eventually, you’ll get used to the different flight sensations that trigger motion sickness, so you can finally enjoy your lessons in the air.