Test Pilot

April 1, 2005


  1. A pilot is flying an un-pressurized airplane at 11,000 feet msl. He opens a thermos bottle that had been filled at sea level with hot coffee and is immediately blasted with injurious steam. What is the primary reason for this often-unanticipated hazard?
  2. Who was the first woman in the world to be employed as an airline pilot?
  3. Pilots often read or hear that a particular airplane does or does not have control harmony. What is meant by this term?
  4. Name a U.S.-production twin-engine, propeller-driven single-place airplane.
  5. Almost every country has a national aero club. The United States used to have the Aero Club of America. What well-known national aviation organization evolved from this aero club?
  6. The U.S. Navy has had 76 aircraft carriers, the newest being the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). What was the name of the Navy's first aircraft carrier?
  7. From reader Ken Bowers: There are five VOR stations in the United States with identifiers consisting of one letter used three times. They are CCC, DDD, GGG, MMM, and TTT. Can you name them?
  8. What is a Balbo?


  1. A pilot is cruising in VFR conditions at 8,500 feet msl and agl. Opposite-direction traffic at his altitude will appear to be
    1. above the horizon.
    2. below the horizon.
    3. on the horizon.
    4. Depends on visibility.
  2. From reader Doug Fee: A crew takes off in a Boeing 747-400 that is loaded to its maximum-allowable gross weight. For how long must the aircraft be flown so that the crew can land the aircraft without having to dump fuel or make an overweight landing?
    1. zero hours
    2. 3 hours
    3. 6 hours
    4. 9 hours
  3. The first U.S. president to have a government airplane assigned exclusively to presidential service was
    1. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    2. Harry S. Truman.
    3. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
    4. John F. Kennedy.


  1. A lightplane pilot departs from an island on the west side of the international date line at 1100 UTC on Monday, June 23. When he lands at another island on the east side of the date line two hours later, it will be 1300 UTC on Sunday, June 22.
  2. Nicknamed the "Tin Bubble," the successful ZMC-2 blimp was clad in aluminum alloy.
  3. From reader Richard G. Somers: In the world of show biz, The Big Lift referred to the famous brassiere that Howard Hughes designed for actress Jane Russell.


  1. At 11,000 feet, the boiling point of water (and coffee) drops to only 193 degrees Fahrenheit. If the coffee is hotter than this, which is likely if the thermos was filled at sea level, opening the thermos causes some of the coffee to instantly boil and release an explosion of steam.
  2. Helen Richey was hired by Central Airlines after competing against eight men. She made her first flight as copilot on a Stinson Trimotor on January 1, 1935. She resigned later that year because the Bureau of Air Commerce would not allow her to fly passengers in "heavy weather."
  3. Beyond just feeling right, control harmony exists when the control forces applied by a pilot during a barrel roll, for example, have a ratio of approximately 2 pounds of elevator force to 1 of aileron force to 7 of rudder-pedal force (2-to-1-to-7).
  4. There are several, but the best known is probably the Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
  5. The National Aeronautic Association is the U.S. representative of the Swiss-based Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the World Air Sports Federation responsible for certifying world aviation records.
  6. The USS Langley (CV 1) was converted from a collier (a coal hauler) by building a platform over her entire deck. She was commissioned as a carrier on March 20, 1922, and sunk during enemy action near Tjilatjap, Java, on February 27, 1942.
  7. CCC is Calverton (NY); DDD is Port City (IA); GGG is Gregg County (TX); MMM is Mormon Mesa (NV); and TTT is Maverick (TX).
  8. Any large formation of airplanes. It is named after Italo Balbo, who led an armada of 24 Savoia-Marchetti SM.55X flying boats from Italy to the Chicago World's Fair and back in 1933.
  9. (a) The higher the observer's altitude, the more above the horizon (in degrees) opposite direction traffic will appear at his altitude (because of the Earth's curvature). When below approximately 3,000 feet, such traffic appears on the horizon.
  10. (d) The airplane has a maximum takeoff weight of 870,000 pounds and a maximum landing weight of 630,000 pounds. About 240,000 pounds of fuel would have to be burned at an average cruise consumption of 25,000 pounds per hour.
  11. (a) Roosevelt's Douglas C-54 was called the Sacred Cow. Truman had a Douglas DC-6, the Independence. Eisenhower's Lockheed Constellations were Columbine II and III.
  12. False. When crossing the date line using Coordinated Universal Time (UTC or GMT), the date is not affected. The date changes upon crossing the date line only when using local time.
  13. True. The ZMC-2 was built by the Metalclad Airship Corporation in Detroit and flew in the Navy from 1929 until 1939. It had eight fins (four with rudders and four with elevators), a maximum cruise speed of 62 mph, and a pair of 220-horsepower Wright Whirlwind engines.
  14. False. Starring Montgomery Clift, The Big Lift was a realistic 1950 motion picture about the Berlin Airlift. Hughes, however, did design a bra for the starlet's use in his film The Outlaw.

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