spatial disorientation

spatial disorientation
A state of confusion concerning the subject’s true position in space in relation to the surface of the earth. A disoriented pilot is thus uncertain or unaware of his position or the attitude of his aircraft. In flight, the problem of disorientation is much greater than it is on the ground, as the pilot lacks physical contact with the ground to orient himself. In the air, there are other accelerations, which add to sensory confusion. This is mainly because of the lack of visual clues. This is a very common situation at night, in clouds, and in poor visibility conditions, especially when the pilot is not relying totally on instruments.

Aviation dictionary. 2014.

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