Test Pilot

December 1, 2003


  1. Teledyne Continental and Textron Lycoming are currently the most popular piston engines powering U.S.-manufactured general aviation airplanes. There have been, of course, many other engine manufacturers. Name six of them.
  2. Your passenger observes that outside air temperature decreases during a climb. "It should get warmer as we get closer to the sun," he notes. Explain why temperature decreases with altitude (in the troposphere).
  3. From reader Bill Worden: What was the first airplane to utilize counterrotating propellers?
  4. Most know that the official song of the United States Air Force begins with, Off we go into the wild blue yonder. What comes next?
  5. What are the nine different flight instructor ratings available from the FAA?
  6. The Astrodome in Houston is home to the Houston Astros baseball team. What useful purpose did astrodomes serve in aviation?
  7. What is the primary difference between an Aeronca Chief and an Aeronca Champion?
  8. The earliest airline pilots did not wear uniforms. What were the circumstances surrounding the introduction of uniforms?


  1. From reader David Hall: Samuel Pierpont Langley was one of America's most accomplished scientists and an aeronautics pioneer. He developed Langley's Law, which states that "the higher the speed,
    1. the lower the drag."
    2. the greater the drag."
    3. the lower the lift."
    4. the greater the lift."
  2. With respect to John Gillespie Magee Jr., which one of the following does not belong?
    1. He wrote the World War II classic High Flight.
    2. He died in a midair collision over England on December 11, 1941, at the age of 19.
    3. He soloed a Chinese glider at the age of 13.
    4. He was a Spitfire pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
    5. He was an American born in Shanghai, China.
  3. From reader Mark Barchenko: When comparing flight hazards, landings account for _____ accidents and _____ fatalities than takeoffs.
    1. fewer, fewer
    2. more, more
    3. fewer, more
    4. more, fewer


  1. During and until the end of World War II, general aviation airplanes were banned from flying along the war-jittery coast of Southern California.
  2. From reader Brian Schiff: The pilot can spin-up (rotate) one or more wheels before landing when flying some U.S.-produced general aviation airplanes.
  3. The Civil Aviation Administration helped to stimulate interest in general aviation following World War II by eliminating written examinations from private pilot certification requirements.


  1. Ten of the best known are Curtiss, Franklin, Jacobs, Kinner, Liberty, Menasco, Pratt & Whitney, Ranger, Warner, and Wright.
  2. The Earth absorbs solar radiation and radiates this terrestrial heat into the atmosphere. The higher above the Earth, therefore, the farther one is from the heat source.
  3. The 1903 Wright Flyer. Two men (one for each propeller) propped the engine to start so that there would be equal tension on both chain drives.
  4. "Climbing high into the sun;
    Here they come, zooming to meet our thunder;
    At 'em boys, give 'er the gun!"
  5. Airplane single engine, airplane multiengine, rotorcraft helicopter, rotorcraft gyroplane, instrument airplane, instrument helicopter, glider, powered-lift, and instrument powered-lift.
  6. They were transparent domes in the ceilings of airplanes through which a celestial navigator could use a sextant to sight heavenly bodies and measure their altitudes (angles above the horizon).
  7. The Chief has side-by-side seating; the "Champ" has tandem seating.
  8. S. Instone & Company, a maritime shipping line, launched Instone Air Line in 1919. Its pilots were required to wear the blue uniform of a ship's captain, which became standard dress for airline pilots. The airline flew between Cardiff, Wales, and Paris via London and merged in 1924 with other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
  9. (a) Such forces were difficult to measure in 1891, and Langley concluded incorrectly.
  10. (c) Magee sent a copy of High Flight to his parents only months before he perished. Otherwise, his prose might never have been published. He is buried in the churchyard cemetery at Scopwick, Lincolnshire, England.
  11. (d) Airline safety classes teach that the majority of accidents occur during what would normally be the first 3 minutes and last 8 minutes of a flight.
  12. True. This restriction might have applied also to the remainder of the West Coast of the United States. Those who presumably know cannot seem to agree.
  13. True. Some late-model Learjets have a nosewheel spin-up system that is used before landing on unpaved runways to prevent rocks from being thrown into the engine inlets during touchdown.
  14. True. Written exams were reinstated in 1951. A booklet containing 200 true-false questions and answers was given to student pilots to study. The exam consisted of 50 of these, and no one ever failed.

Visit the author's Web site ( www.barryschiff.com).