Test Pilot

July 1, 2005


  1. What unique method did Japan and other countries use during the 1930s (before the advent of radar) to detect approaching enemy aircraft?
  2. According to the Aeronautical Information Manual, what is the most likely way for a pilot to inadvertently induce whiteout conditions?
  3. From reader Mark Barchenko: What does a modern U.S. naval destroyer have in common with a McDonnell Douglas DC-10?
  4. NASA's hypersonic X-43A, an unmanned research airplane, is powered by an air-breathing scramjet and flew at almost Mach 10 (10 times the speed of sound) on November 16, 2004. What is a scramjet engine?
  5. From reader Bob Merritt: Who is the notable actress named after an airplane flown by her father during World War II?
  6. A pilot is flying through icing conditions that cause his static ports and pitot tube to become clogged with ice, but the drain hole in the pitot tube remains clear. What effect does this have on indicated airspeed?
  7. Why does fueling the wing tanks of a Boeing 747-400 cause wingspan to increase by almost 2 feet?
  8. Most pilots are familiar with the high-wing, piston-powered Rockwell and Aero Commander twins, especially the Model 500 Shrike used by Bob Hoover during his incredible airshow routines. What is a Rockwell Commander 700?


  1. During cruise flight a pilot is approaching a flock of birds at his altitude. The safest procedure (for the airplane and the birds) is to
    1. climb.
    2. descend.
    3. maintain altitude.
    4. turn right (Northern Hemisphere only).
  2. Which one of the following World War II fighters was produced in the greatest numbers?
    1. Lockheed P-38 Lightning
    2. Grumman F4F Wildcat
    3. North American P-51 Mustang
    4. Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
    5. Chance Vought F4U Corsair
  3. Following are the original Mercury 7 astronauts. Which one never went aloft aboard the single-place Mercury capsule?
    1. Scott Carpenter
    2. Walter H. "Wally" Schirra Jr.
    3. L. Gordon Cooper Jr.
    4. Alan B. Shepard Jr.
    5. John H. Glenn Jr.
    6. Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom
    7. Donald K. "Deke" Slayton


  1. From General Aviation News: The monstrous Airbus Industries A380 super jumbo is larger in span and length than the huge Antonov An-225 Mriya, a Russian cargo plane.
  2. From reader George Shanks: It takes less time to fly at a given groundspeed from El Paso, Texas, to California than it does from El Paso to Dallas.
  3. Lockheed's famed Skunk Works was so named because of the stench from a nearby plastics factory.


  1. Ever see an ear trumpet, that conical acoustic device formerly used to amplify and direct sound to an ear of a hearing-impaired person? A large cluster of huge, interconnected "ear trumpets" was aimed skyward to amplify the sound of approaching enemy aircraft, making them detectable before they could be heard by the unaided ear.
  2. This can occur when a helicopter takes off from or lands on a snow-covered area. Downwash from the rotor picks up snow, recirculates it through the downwash, and reduces visibility to near zero.
  3. Both use General Electric CF6 turbine engines, four in a destroyer and three in a DC-10.
  4. A Supersonic Combustion Ramjet (scramjet) has no moving parts and achieves internal compression by its forward speed and internal shape. Fuel (usually hydrogen) is injected and combustion accelerates the air rearward.
  5. Swoosie Kurtz, whose father, Frank, flew a Boeing B-17D named The Swoose (half-swan, half-goose), the only remaining small-tailed B-17 (now in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) and the only surviving combat aircraft that was based in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II.
  6. Ram pressure will slowly escape from the drain hole and cause airspeed to slowly decrease to zero.
  7. Outer portions of the wings sag. This causes the winglets to angle farther outboard, thus increasing span.
  8. Rockwell and Fuji Heavy Industries jointly developed a pressurized, low-wing, six-place, piston twin with a cruciform tail in the early 1970s. The Commander 700 and 710 are similar in appearance to a Cessna Crusader and had a limited production run. There are 21 Commander 700s on the FAA's aircraft registry.
  9. (a) This recommendation is in the Aeronautical Information Manual. Birds in flocks tend to distribute themselves downward with lead birds at the highest altitude.
  10. (d) The heaviest and largest single-engine, single-place U.S. fighter, the "Jug," was used by Francis "Gabby" Gabreski, the war's top American ace in Europe, to record his 28 kills; 15,683 were built.
  11. (g) A heart condition precluded Slayton from making a Mercury or a Gemini flight, but he was the docking module pilot aboard Apollo 18 in 1975.
  12. False. The six-engine Antonov was designed to carry space shuttles for the Soviet Union and is approximately 33 feet longer and has an 8-foot greater span than the A380, which, however, is taller.
  13. True. It is only 428 nautical miles from El Paso to Blythe, California, but 491 nm from El Paso to Dallas.
  14. True. The Skunk Works originally was a fictional place near Dogpatch, the home of Li'l Abner, a comic-strip character created by Al Capp. It, too, had a horrific stench and is where Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe brewed bootleg Kickapoo Joy Juice from old shoes and dead skunks.

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