Test Pilot

January 1, 1996


  1. From reader Robert (Boom) Powell: Pilots, controllers, and mechanics refer to various aircraft by using descriptive nicknames, not all of which are complimentary. Can you name the aircraft to which the following refer?
    a. Sky Box
    b. Texas Tube
    c. Whale
    d. Guppy
    e. Slobovian DC-10
    f. Rice Rocket
    g. Jurassic Jet
    h. Wart Hog
    i. Lawn Dart
    j. Three Holer
  2. Most pilots have heard of the Boeing 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777. What happened to the Boeing 717?
  3. How did a non-rigid airship come to be called a blimp?
  4. Can you name two things that are wrong with the following statement? While in cruise flight at 25,000 feet during World War II, the P-51 pilot lit a cigarette and settled back to enjoy the flight.
  5. According to the Centers for Disease Control, if an airline passenger is in the coughing stage of influenza, the virus will be spread to what percentage of the other passengers aboard that flight? Try to answer within five percent.
  6. Many World War II pilots gained fame by "flying the hump." What was the hump?


  1. A pilot is proceeding toward an airport that is surrounded on a sectional chart by a magenta, dashed, keyhole-shaped line. The airport is situated within or under
    1. a) Class D airspace beginning at the surface.
    2. b) Class D airspace beginning at 700 feet agl.
    3. c) Class E airspace beginning at 700 feet agl.
    4. d) Class E airspace beginning at the surface.
  2. Which of the following does not belong?
    1. a) longeron
    2. b) rib
    3. c) stringer
    4. d) former
  3. Eight- and 12-foot-long windsocks are designed to extend fully with a wind speed of
    1. a) 15 knots.
    2. b) 20 knots.
    3. c) 25 knots.
    4. d) 30 knots.
  4. Which of the following does not belong?
    1. a) winds shift to northwesterly
    2. b) temperature decreases
    3. c) dew point increases
    4. d) pressure rises


  1. Modern two-, three-, and four-engine jetliners are equipped with three, four, and five jet engines, respectively.
  2. The throttles on British aircraft before World War II worked backward (i.e., pushing them forward reduced power, and vice versa).
  3. Thunderstorms often penetrate the tropopause and extend thousands of feet into the stratosphere.
  4. A pilot approaches a small house while flying over an otherwise flat, featureless desert. It is legal for him to fly 400 feet abeam the house at an altitude of 400 feet agl.


  1. Shorts 330/360
  2. Swearingen Metroliner
  3. Boeing 747
  4. Boeing 737
  5. Britten-Norman Trislander
  6. Mitsubishi MU-2
  7. Douglas DC-9
  8. Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt
  9. General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
  10. Boeing 727
  1. Boeing did manufacture the Boeing 717. It is more commonly known as the Air Force's KC-135 Stratotanker (used for air-to-air refueling).
  2. The most common explanation is that the British originally referred to a non-rigid airship as limp, because it had no internal structure. They also had a Type B airship, which resulted in the popular contraction, blimp.
  3. World War II fighters were not pressurized, so their pilots had to wear oxygen masks at such high altitudes. Also, there is insufficient oxygen at 25,000 feet for the cigarette to remain lit.
  4. 72 percent. A passenger not vaccinated against the flu can obtain a prescription for amantadine from his doctor. This can be taken orally before a flight and provides almost immediate protection.
  5. The hump was — and still is — the Himalayan Mountains of southern Asia.
  6. (d) Otherwise, Class E airspace normally begins at either 700 or 1,200 feet agl.
  7. (b) A rib is a structural member of a wing; the others are parts of a fuselage.
  8. (a) This is according to FAA Advisory Circular 150/5345-27B. The sock also must be capable of withstanding a wind speed of at least 75 knots.
  9. (c) After a cold front passes, the dew point decreases.
  10. True. The additional jet engine is the auxiliary power unit (APU) that provides electrical and pneumatic power primarily when the aircraft is on the ground.
  11. False. But it was true of French aircraft, and this caused problems for French pilots flying Royal Air Force Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.
  12. True. The amount of overshoot into the stratosphere depends on the strength of the updrafts and the stability of the lower stratosphere.
  13. True. According to Federal Aviation Regulation 91.119(c), an aircraft flying over sparsely populated areas "may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any...structure." In this case, the aircraft is 565 feet (diagonally) from the house.