Test Pilot

September 1, 2000


  1. Vertigo and spatial disorientation can result in the loss of aircraft control. What is the difference between these phenomena?
  2. What is the difference between spoilers and speed brakes?
  3. Why do pilots of airplanes with radial engines turn the propellers by hand before the first flight of the day?
  4. Almost every pilot knows that the Spirit of St. Louis was a Ryan monoplane, but what was the model designation?
  5. In terms of the number of aircraft shot down, who is the greatest ace of all time? (An ace must have shot down at least five.)
  6. Estimate within 5 degrees Fahrenheit the hottest temperature ever recorded in the free atmosphere.
  7. During World War II, American paratroopers were advised to yell when leaping from their airplanes to relieve pressure on their ears and lessen nervous tension. Why was it popular to yell the word Geronimo?
  8. Every nation has sovereign control of its airspace, but to what altitude does this sovereignty extend?


  1. Low-latitude winds in the Northern Hemisphere are northeasterly trade winds. Low-latitude winds in the Southern Hemisphere are
    1. northeasterly.
    2. southeasterly.
    3. southwesterly.
    4. northwesterly.
  2. A pilot wants to fly as far north from his home airport as possible and then return without landing for fuel. Everything else being equal, the greatest radius of action with a given wind speed is achieved when the wind direction is
    1. 180 degrees.
    2. 210 degrees.
    3. 240 degrees.
    4. 270 degrees.
  3. The most unfavorable weather associated with a low-pressure system is most often found in the _______ quadrant.
    1. northeast
    2. southeast
    3. southwest
    4. northwest


  1. A pilot is about to land an airplane with the right landing gear and nosewheel extended but with the left gear stuck in its well. The ailerons are equipped with conventional trim tabs that are controllable from the cockpit. During landing and rollout, the right aileron tab should be deflected fully down.
  2. From reader and new TWA Capt. Brian Schiff: A pilot holding in position for takeoff on Runway 30L in St. Louis on a fair-weather day notices that some of the low, scattered clouds cast shadows that track from the northeast while the other low clouds are moving toward the south. The lower of the two cloud layers, therefore, is from the north.
  3. With respect to horizontally opposed Teledyne Continental and Lycoming engines, the number-one cylinder is the rearmost cylinder on the right.


  1. Vertigo is a condition of the inner ear that results in a loss of balance. Spatial disorientation is a false impression of aircraft motion and/or attitude caused by misleading sensations.
  2. Strictly speaking, spoilers are deployable surfaces that spoil or kill lift, and speed brakes are surfaces that produce drag. Because spoilers also increase drag, they often are called speed brakes. Speed brakes located other than on a wing cannot be regarded as spoilers.
  3. Oil tends to collect in the bottom cylinders of radial engines. Attempting to start an engine at such a time results in hydraulically locked cylinders that can cause structural damage. Slowly turning the propeller by hand before starting allows pooled oil to drain harmlessly through the valves.
  4. N-X-211 was officially designated as a Ryan NYP. The letters stood for New York to Paris.
  5. Germany's Erich Hartmann (World War II, 352 victories). America's greatest ace is Richard Bong (World War II, 40 victories).
  6. 136 degrees F (58 degrees Celsius) at Azizia, Libya, in 1922. Although the elevation is only 380 feet msl, the density altitude there on that day was 5,100 feet. The hottest temperature ever recorded in the United States was 134 degrees F at Death Valley, California, in 1913.
  7. The practice originated at Fort Benning, Georgia, by members of the 505th Infantry Battalion who attended the 1939 motion picture Geronimo the night before their first jump.
  8. According to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, airspace sovereignty ends where outer space begins. This altitude has yet to be legally fixed but varies between 85 and 100 nm. It most often is regarded as 90 nm.
  9. (b) These northeasterly and southeasterly winds meet in a global band called the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), which results in an equatorial band of thunderstorms.
  10. (d) The maximum radius of action (for a given fuel endurance and true airspeed) occurs when the average out-and-return groundspeed is at a maximum, and this occurs when flying under the influence of a direct crosswind.
  11. (a) Also, low-pressure (or cyclonic) areas typically travel across the United States at about 500 or more statute miles per day.
  12. False. The tab should be up on the right aileron and down on the left. Although such "left" trim requires more muscle to hold the wheel to the right, the tabs work with, and not against, the ailerons, which makes them more effective at low speed.
  13. True. Low-level winds in the Northern Hemisphere shift right (clockwise) with a gain in altitude. In this case, the wind at the lower altitude is from the north and shifts to a northeasterly wind as altitude increases.
  14. False. It is true on Continental engines, but the number-one cylinder on a Lycoming engine is the most forward cylinder on the right (on tractor engines).