Test Pilot

April 1, 2004


  1. Dip your spoon into this brew of alphabet soup and specify the word represented by each of the following letters: CFIT, EGPWS, GPSS, MTBF, RVSM, and TAWS.
  2. Why did the World War II Jeep have two engines?
  3. The EADS Socata TBM 700 is a sleek and popular single-engine turboprop airplane built in France. What do the letters TBM represent?
  4. From reader Mark Barchenko: In his book Fate Is the Hunter author Ernest Gann described what might have been the strangest "crash" in aviation history. What made it so strange?
  5. From reader Betsey Sanpere: During World War II, Pan American World Airways' China Clipper made top-secret flights to Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo (Zaire). What was the sole purpose of these flights?
  6. The first fully automatic landing of a passenger-carrying airline flight occurred on June 10, 1965. Name the airline, the aircraft type, and the airport at which this occurred.
  7. From reader David Grimm: In 1954 a celebrity buzzed a control tower and had his certificate suspended for six months. Who was he, where did this occur, and what type of aircraft did he use?
  8. A film clip used to educate pilots about crew resource management (CRM) shows copilot Roman slapping Capt. Sullivan during flight and saying, "Get hold of yourself, you yellow son-of-a-bitch." From what classic movie is that clip taken?


  1. Speaking of the China Clipper, Pan American World Airways' famed four-engine flying boat was a
    1. Boeing 314.
    2. Martin M-130.
    3. Sikorsky S-40.
    4. Sikorsky S-42.
  2. Who used an alias while working as a copilot for American Airlines?
    1. Bernt Balchen
    2. Jimmy Doolittle
    3. Howard Hughes
    4. Charles Lindbergh
    5. Roscoe Turner
  3. WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) enables GPS position accuracy to improve from approximately _____ feet to approximately _____ feet.
    1. 100, 2
    2. 100, 7
    3. 100, 15
    4. 200, 7
    5. 200, 15


  1. From reader George Shanks: VOR radials are magnetic in direction and utilize the existing magnetic variation at the station.
  2. The rudders of airplanes built prior to World War I operate in reverse. That is, a pilot pushes the right rudder pedal (or rudder bar) forward to yaw left.
  3. It is possible to perform loops in a conventional hang glider.


  1. Controlled flight into terrain, enhanced ground proximity warning system, Global Positioning System Steering, mean time between failures, reduced vertical separation minimums, and terrain awareness warning system.
  2. Because the two-place Curtiss AT-9 Jeep (less known as the Fledgling) was an airplane, a multiengine trainer with the handling qualities of a light bomber. Eight hundred were built from 1941 through 1943.
  3. The aircraft is built in Tarbes (hence the TB) and was originally developed as a partnership between Socata, the general aviation division of Aerospatiale, and Mooney Aircraft (hence the M).
  4. The pilots of a Consolidated PBY amphibian were flying across Greenland in whiteout conditions. The airspeed and air noise gradually decreased to nil even though both engines still delivered cruise power. The pilots had inadvertently flown ever so gingerly onto the snow-covered icecap until the PBY was at a standstill. They were eventually rescued.
  5. The China Clipper transported uranium ore to the United States for the Manhattan Project and the first atomic bombs.
  6. A British European Airways (BEA) Trident 1 made the historic landing at London Heathrow Airport. (The Hawker Siddely Trident is a three-engine jetliner similar in appearance to the Boeing 727.)
  7. Arthur Godfrey was accused of buzzing the Teterboro Control Tower in his personally owned Douglas DC-3.
  8. The High and the Mighty. This scene — John Wayne is the copilot and Robert Stack is the captain — shows how not to communicate with your captain even when assertiveness is needed.
  9. (b) It was called an M-130 because of its 130-foot wingspan. The Martin cruised at 163 mph and had a range of 3,200 sm. Only three were built. The other two were the Hawaiian Clipper and the Philippine Clipper. The other three answers also were "Pan Am Clippers" but not China Clippers.
  10. (c) Hughes used the name "Charles Howard" for two months during 1932 to gain professional instrument flying experience.
  11. (b) Such accuracy enables a GPS-derived, electronic glideslope to be used for Category I precision instrument approaches similar in execution to ILS approaches.
  12. False. Radial directions reflect the variation that existed when the station was installed. Variation changes with time, which means that the published directions of most radials are inaccurate. (In Australia, magnetic courses are changed as variation changes.)
  13. True. This concept originated with sleds, bicycles, and other machines wherein pushing forward on the right end of handlebars causes a left turn, and vice versa. Modern ultralights also operate in this manner.
  14. True. Chad Elchin of Ridgely, Maryland, currently holds the world record of 95 consecutive loops. He began looping at 15,900 feet and quit at 700 feet.

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