Test Pilot

October 1, 2003


  1. My head was struck by a propeller, and I was so far gone that last rites were delivered at the hospital. I survived and later set (and still hold) an around-the-world speed record (westbound) as well as a nonstop, unrefueled distance record in a lightplane. I have been presented with the Harmon Trophy, and there is an airport named after me. Who am I?
  2. What was unusual about the manner in which the first Bücker Jungmeister arrived in the United States (circa 1937) from Germany?
  3. What is the largest airplane to have ever taken off from and landed on an aircraft carrier?
  4. Pilots have heard of agonic and isogonic lines, but what is the aclinic line?
  5. From reader Steve Madorsky: What famous aviation personality and companion became in 1916 the first couple to fulfill the membership requirements of the Mile High Club?
  6. Why did Boeing design the Boeing 747 so that the flight deck (cockpit) was above the main cabin, which resulted in the familiar hump?
  7. In 1978 and 1979, Beech and Piper each introduced a light twin and a single-engine trainer. The trainers were so similar (as were the twins) that each manufacturer was unofficially accused of plagiarizing the other's designs. Name these four airplanes.
  8. Why were barrage balloons occasionally used near Los Angeles both before and after World War II?


  1. Extending the flaps of the typical lightplane causes the angle of attack of the horizontal tailplane to increase.
  2. From reader Mark Barchenko: NASA spent millions of dollars during the 1960s to develop a ballpoint pen that would operate in the weightlessness of space. Soviet cosmonauts instead used pencils.
  3. From reader Austin Meyer: A pilot can briskly move the control wheel (or stick) of a typical light airplane fully forward or aft when flying at maneuvering speed (V A) without risking structural failure.


  1. In 1978, Bede Aircraft advertised the BD-5D, a 200-knot production airplane (not a kit), for
    1. $4,400.
    2. $9,400.
    3. $14,400.
    4. $19,400.
  2. Which of the following does not belong?
    1. automatic
    2. coupled
    3. fixed
    4. manual
    5. pressure
  3. Who said in 1895 that "the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the flying machine problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere"?
    1. Alexander Graham Bell
    2. Thomas Edison
    3. Samuel Pierpont Langley
    4. Wilbur Wright


  1. Maximilian A. "Max" Conrad Jr., known as the "flying grandfather," flew a Piper Comanche (N110LF) nonstop and unrefueled between Casablanca, Morocco, and Los Angeles (6,668 nm in 58 hours and 38 minutes). Winona Municipal-Max Conrad Field is in Minnesota.
  2. The popular open-cockpit, single-place, taildragging biplane was shipped "slightly disassembled" aboard the Hindenburg. After the mammoth airship docked in Lakehurst, New Jersey, the single-place trainer was quickly assembled and flown away.
  3. A Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
  4. The aclinic line connects all points of zero magnetic dip. It is the magnetic equator and is where a pilot would encounter no compass errors because of turning or accelerating.
  5. According to USA Today, Lawrence Sperry (of gyroscope fame) and a married New York socialite took advantage of the Sperry autopilot over Babylon, New York, and purportedly were the first couple to couple while airborne.
  6. The original purpose was to allow the 747 to have a hinged nose for use as a front-loading cargo door.
  7. The singles were the Beech Model 77 Skipper and the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk. The twins were the Beech Model 76 Duchess and the Piper PA-44 Seminole (which were not quite as identical to each other as were the singles).
  8. Motion picture producers used them to warn pilots to avoid outdoor areas (mainly west of the San Fernando Valley) where cowboy and other outdoor movies were being filmed.
  9. True. Lowering the flaps results in downwash that causes airflow to strike the top of the tailplane at a larger angle than when the flaps are retracted.
  10. False. NASA selected the Fisher Space Pen because it is impervious to temperature extremes and operates when weightless and when under water. The pressurized, 40-psi refill cartridge forces ink to the ballpoint and has been in use ever since the 1968 Apollo 7 mission.
  11. False. Rapidly pulling aft forces a stall before the positive limit load factor (typically plus 3.8 Gs) is exceeded. The negative limit load factor is less (typically minus 1.52 Gs) and can be exceeded by pushing forward on the control wheel with sufficient vigor (depending on the airfoil).
  12. (a) The petite, single-place, aerobatic, 70-horsepower airplane was a production version of the BD-5 homebuilt and was touted as the least expensive production airplane in the world. Few, if any, were delivered.
  13. (e) The first four are methods by which turbocharger wastegates are controlled. A pressure controller is a type of automatic controller. An alternate answer is (c) because a fixed wastegate does not move.
  14. (b) Edison later made significant contributions to the advancement of aeronautics.

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