Test Pilot

October 1, 2008


  1. Boeing and SkyHook International are jointly developing a heavy-lift aircraft called a SkyHook JHL-40 that is essentially an airship supplemented with helicopter-like rotors. What was the first aircraft to be called a Skyhook or SkyHook?
  2. From reader Rick Ray: The solemn missing-man formation usually is flown over a funeral or memorial event in honor of the fallen. It is customary to see a wingman pull up, pull away, or simply be missing. What does it mean when the formation leader and not a wingman pulls away or is missing?
  3. All U.S.-registered aircraft begin with an N and may end with a letter or a combination of two letters (such as N6796T and N707BS). What letter or letters, however, may not be used at the end of an N-number?
  4. From Reader Brian Corliss: On September 2, 1944, Lieutenant JG George H.W. Bush’s Grumman Avenger was downed by anti-aircraft fire while he was attacking a radio transmitter on Chichi-Jima (near Iwo Jima), and the future president had to bail out. Why is the Avenger sometimes called a Grumman TBF and at other times a TBM?
  5. From reader Dan Murphy: How is it possible to easily determine wind direction at your altitude without using a computer, calculator, GPS, or other navigational aid?
  6. What was done with toilet waste during the early days of airline travel?
  7. From reader Charles Baumann: Less than 10 authors have ever had their books appear as number one on The New York Times bestseller lists for both fiction and nonfiction. Which of these authors is well known as a pilot?
  8. What was the world’s first turboprop airliner?


  1. From reader Sydney Reibman: What was the longest-duration passenger flight ever made by an airline using an airplane powered by reciprocating engines?
    1. 23 hours 19 minutes
    2. 20 hours 19 minutes
    3. 17 hours 19 minutes
    4. 14 hours 19 minutes
  2. From reader Daniel Brown: Which of the following was the only operational Century-series fighter not deployed over Vietnam?
    1. Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
    2. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
    3. Convair F-106 Delta Dart
    4. McDonnell F-110 Spectre
  3. From reader John Tiller: Multiengine pilots know that it can take substantial rudder-pedal force to arrest the yaw created by a failed engine when operating at minimum-controllable airspeed (V MC). The maximum force allowed by aircraft certification regulation Part 23.149 is
    1. 75 pounds.
    2. 100 pounds.
    3. 150 pounds.
    4. 200 pounds.


  1. From reader Richard Somers: For instrument-rated pilots: A pilot is cleared to “cruise at 9,000 feet,” for example. This means that the pilot is cleared to execute the instrument approach at his destination airport.
  2. The Beech King Air was the first civilian turboprop airplane produced in the United States.
  3. From reader Mike Gaffaney: Pilots are familiar with the Cessna 120, 140, 150, 170, 180, and 190. Cessna never produced a 100, 110, 130, or 160.


  1. The Cessna CH-1 Skyhook helicopter was certified in 1955. Only 23 civilian models were reportedly sold as well as an unknown number of military models, the UH-41. Production ended ignominiously in 1962.
  2. Such a formation is used to salute a fallen leader and was flown recently in honor of Brigadier Gen. Robin Olds. The missing-man formation was originated by British pilots during World War I.
  3. The letters I and O are not used because they can be confused with One and Zero.
  4. The Navy added an F to the designators of airplanes built by Grumman. General Motors also built some of Grumman’s torpedo bombers, and these were designated with an M.
  5. When directly over any given checkpoint on the ground, begin a constant-bank turn while maintaining altitude and airspeed. At the completion of a full circle, you will be directly downwind of the point at which you started.
  6. It fell through a hole in the bottom of the airplane. It was believed that anything dropped from altitude would vaporize before hitting the ground. Not! Falling cigars and cigarettes occasionally sparked forest fires.
  7. Jimmy Buffett for his novels, Where is Joe Merchant? (1992) and A Salty Piece of Land (2004). His book, A Pirate Looks at Fifty, made the nonfiction list in 1998.
  8. The four-engine Vickers Viscount entered service with BEA (British European Airways) in 1953.
  9. (a) Oh, my aching posterior. During its inaugural passenger flight from London to San Francisco on October 1-2, 1957, TWA used its Starliner, a Lockheed 1649A Super Constellation to cover the 5,350 miles in 23 hours, 19 minutes, an average groundspeed of 229.4 mph.
  10. (c) Both the F-102 and F-104 saw limited action over North Vietnam. The F-110 was renamed as the F-4 Phantom, and the exploits of the F-100 and F-105 are well known.
  11. (c) This is equivalent to a 150-pound person standing on one leg for a short period.
  12. True. A clearance to “cruise” implies approval to execute the approach. (See the Pilot/Controller Glossary in the Aeronautical Information Manual.)
  13. False. The Lockheed Electra first flew on December 6, 1957, and the Grumman Gulfstream I (the G1) first flew on August 14, 1958. The King Air was not introduced until 1964.
  14. True. Cessna has no records of a 100, 110, or 130. It did build one experimental 160, but it was never produced.