Test Pilot

December 1, 2001


  1. A general aviation airplane has been intercepted by a military aircraft that is rocking its wings. What does this signify?
  2. Early pilots often earned a living by flying from one rural town to the next, where they sold airplane rides, raced, and gave flying exhibitions. Why were they called barnstormers?
  3. When notams become relatively old but are still in effect, they may no longer be provided during a preflight briefing. Where can such notams be found?
  4. During World War II, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress had a crew of up to 10. Name the position(s) manned by each crewmember.
  5. From reader Bill Rimer: Why is Lemon Pledge furniture polish found in many Alaskan bush planes?
  6. What pilot and well-known broadcast personality coined the term skyjack?
  7. Controlled firing areas (CFAs) are areas within which artillery fire can be expected. How are they depicted on aeronautical charts?
  8. The North American X-15A shattered and still holds the world speed record of 3,940 knots (4,534 mph, Mach 6.7) as well as the altitude record of 354,330 feet. Who were the pilots of these two remarkable flights?


  1. From reader Larry Johnston: .hat is the great-est number of people ever to fly together in the same untethered balloon?
    1. 39
    2. 69
    3. 99
    4. 129
  2. Which of the following does not belong?
    1. Secure a tree branch on top of each wing
    2. Deflate the tires
    3. Use manilla rope (when available)
    4. Park a large truck in front of the airplane
    5. Top off the fuel tanks
  3. A cross-country pilot flying over mountainous terrain notices a downed airplane marked by a large yellow cross. This means that
    1. assistance is required.
    2. medical assistance is required.
    3. the situation is critical.
    4. the crash has been reported.


  1. The first successful powered flight of an aircraft occurred on December 17, 1903.
  2. The side windows of the Spirit of St. Louis were made of plastic and were provided to protect Charles Lindbergh from the elements during his flight across the North Atlantic Ocean.
  3. From reader John Lawton: The FAA's Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15) correctly states that unlike variation, deviation is different on each heading.


  1. This signals the lightplane pilot to follow the military pilot. The intercepted pilot should rock his wings to signify that he understands. Intercepting signals are published in Chapter 5 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).
  2. Barnstorming is a term that was appropriated by pioneer aviators from touring theatrical groups. These roving actors often performed in barns and referred to themselves as barnstormers.
  3. All such notams can be found in the current Airport/Facility Directory, which is published every 56 days by the FAA. Seven volumes cover the 48 contiguous states.
  4. Pilot (captain), copilot, navigator, bombardier/nose gunner, flight engineer/top-turret gunner, radio operator, ball-turret gunner (belly), right and left waist gunners, and tail gunner.
  5. When used as a window cleaner, Lemon Pledge serves as an effective rain repellent to improve forward visibility. It also makes it easier to remove bugs from windshields.
  6. Famed radio commentator and raconteur Paul Harvey.
  7. CFAs are not shown on charts. According to the AIM, activities within a CFA "are suspended immediately when spotter aircraft, radar, or ground lookout positions indicate an aircraft might be approaching the area."
  8. William "Pete" Knight set the speed record in 1967, and Joe Walker set the altitude record in 1963.
  9. (d) Henk Brink piloted this incredible flight in The Netherlands on August 17, 1988.
  10. (c) The others are possible steps when tying down in anticipation of very strong surface winds. The branches serves as spoilers to kill wing lift, deflated tires make it less likely that the aircraft will bounce, a large truck serves as a tie-down point and reduces possible wing lift, and adding fuel increases weight and adds stability in gusts. Manilla rope should not be used because it can rot, mildew, shrink in rain, and is not as strong as synthetic rope.
  11. (d) These and other visual search-and-rescue signals are shown in Chapter 6 of the AIM.
  12. False. A Zeppelin first flew on July 2, 1900, when it took off from its floating hangar on Lake Constance (near Friedrichshafen, Germany).
  13. True. Although these removable windows were in the airplane, Lindbergh did not use them because he believed they would interfere with cockpit air circulation.
  14. False. If you plot a curve of deviation vs. heading, it is easy to see that there must be at least two headings that have the same value of deviation (except for maximum and minimum values). In those rare cases when deviation is constant, it is the same on all headings.

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