Aircraft Flight Instruments: What You Should Know Before Taking Lessons

Aircraft can fly in different conditions depending on the speed, altitude, and direction of movement. Many things may go wrong when flying an aircraft, like loss of engine power, etc., leading to dangerous, unpredictable situations in midair. 

Most of these situations can be avoided if you understand what the aircraft operation tells you. To do this, understanding the basics of how they work is important.

Before taking flying lessons, we must understand that each airplane has its unique cockpit layout. This means that each aircraft model can change the number of dials, gauges, and other instruments.

With this said, let’s turn our attention to looking at basic dials or gauges found on most aviation cockpits.

Meet The Six Pack

The six pack in aviation are the 6 most basic instruments in aircraft operation. To learn to fly safely, you should meet this Six Pack during your first flying lessons to learn to fly safely.

The Altimeter

The altimeter is one of the basic dials displayed in the dashboard’s center. It shows you your altitude above sea level by measuring how much pressure there is at any given time. The scale goes from 0 to 31,000 feet, with every 1,000 feet marked equally. There are two main types of altimeters, standard barometric and radar.

The altimeter is important because it can tell you how high your aircraft is above ground level. This helps to avoid crashing into other objects or obstructions near the airfield. If your altitude gets too low, this could cause an accident during takeoff or landing. It is very important to monitor your altimeter closely when the aircraft is close to the ground.

Airspeed Indicator

The airspeed indicator or ASI measures how fast an aircraft moves forward (or backward) through the air by measuring airflow pressure on different points of the plane, like wings and fuselage. It can be found on the dashboard and is marked with a red radial line.

The ASI measures your aircraft’s speed in knots (nautical miles per hour). This can be very important during takeoff, landing, and cruising.

The Turn Coordinator

The Turn Coordinator is a rate of turn indicator that shows your current bank angle in degrees per second. It also shows the direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) you are currently turning. This, combined with the Airspeed Indicator, gives you an indication of your rate of turn.

Attitude Indicator

The attitude indicator tells you which way your plane is pointing in space. It doesn’t tell you if it’s level or not, but with this deal, it’s easy to learn to fly safely and to identify when you’re flying straight and when you’re flying at an angle.

Vertical Speed Indicator

The Vertical Speed Indicator ( VSI ), also referred to as the Vertical Velocity Indicator, is a gauge that shows your current rate of ascent or descent. It tells you whether you are climbing or diving and by how much.

The Directional Gyro

The DG is a compass that allows you to see your current heading. It will always point north regardless of which way the plane is pointing. This can be very useful because if you know what direction north is, and know where north should be on the DG, then you’ll know exactly how many degrees off track you are.

Now that you know some basic aspects of aircraft operation; it’s time to learn to fly!

Take the Best Flying Lessons in Nashville With The CAVU Pilot

At The CAVU Pilot, we provide a comprehensive selection of flying lessons, including Instrument Pilot. Based on what you observe on your dashboard, you’ll learn what your aircraft’s flight instruments are saying and what to do.

Our qualified instructors are instrument pilots with years of experience instructing others on how to fly instruments.

Start your path to become a great instrument pilot.


Leave a Comment

Recent Posts


Recent Comments

Lets Learn More...

Flight Planning

How To Get a Private Pilot License

Prior to each instrument flight, you’ll want to ensure that all your instruments are working properly. Usually completed during taxi, we will explain the importance of the instrument cockpit check and how to perform one.

Read More »

Private Pilot

Instrument Pilot

Commercial Pilot


We do it all!

Enroll in a Flight Course Today!

Enter your information below or call/text us to get started! 

We will respond within 24 hours to schedule your first flight.

Formation Cover


Our maintence exceeds FAA standards.



You'll leave each lesson with a smile.



Our students become lifelong friends.

Come On In

Pick up where you left off.

Not a member yet?

Which are you studying for?

What do you think about us?

[testimonial_view id="4"]

Upgrade your membership to access those pages.