Test Pilot

March 1, 2009


  1. A pilot flying over a desolate, remote part of the country notices a downed airplane that apparently is the result of an accident. How would he know if that aircraft had already been reported and identified?
  2. From reader Dan Stroud: What unusual side effect
    did the astronauts of NASA’s Apollo missions experience when drinking water produced by the fuel cells?
  3. Ten gallons of avgas plus four quarts of oil cost $60.20. Fifteen gallons of avgas plus 10 quarts of oil cost $109.50. What is the cost of one gallon of avgas plus one quart of oil?
  4. What is the primary difference between a Piper Comanche 400 and a Comanche 600?
  5. “Keep ‘em flying” is the motto of what well-known aviation organization?
  6. What was the first business jet available for purchase and delivery?
  7. From reader John Schmidt: Why would most pilots not want to fly an Aeronca GB-1?
  8. One airplane was known as “Rhapsody in Glue,” a takeoff on George Gershwin’s musical composition, Rhapsody in Blue. The other was known as the “Wooden Wonder.” Name these two World War II aircraft.


  1. From reader David Carroll: The fastest piston speed (the speed at which a piston moves up and down in a cylinder) ever attained in a stock, reciprocating aircraft engine is
    a. 3,400 fpm (38.6 mph).
    b. 5,400 fpm (61.4 mph).
    c. 7,400 fpm (84.1 mph).
    d. 9,400 fpm (106.8 mph).
  2. From reader John Tiller: The wing flap was invented by
    a. Glenn Curtiss.
    b. Henry Farman.
    c. Bernhard Fowler.
    d. one or both of the Wright brothers.
  3. How long should a pilot wait after refueling to drain the tank(s) to check for the possible presence of water contamination?
    a. 5 minutes per foot of tank depth
    b. 10 minutes per foot of tank depth
    c. 15 minutes per foot of tank depth
    d. 20 minutes per foot of tank depth


  1. No woman has ever flown at Mach 2.0, twice the speed of sound.
  2. William P. “Bill” Lear, developer of the Lear Jet, inventor of the car radio, inventor of the eight-track stereo tape player and cassette, major manufacturer of avionics, and holder of more than 150 patents, was a high-school dropout.
  3. Robin Hood Airport is near Sherwood Forest and serves Nottingham.

Test Pilot Answers

  1. The airplane has been reported and identified if the crash site has been marked with a conspicuous yellow cross. If not, the pilot should report the precise location of the site to the nearest FAA or other appropriate facility.
  2. The water contained gas (hydrogen), lots of it. Apollo astronaut John Young remarked that it contained so much gas that he could use it to power himself across the capsule.
  3. One gallon of avgas costs $4.10, and one quart of oil costs $4.80. One of each, therefore, cost $8.90.
  4. The Comanche 400 is powered by an eight-cylinder, 400-horsepower Lycoming IO-720, whereas the 600 was powered by a 605-shp AiResearch TPE-331 turboprop engine flat-rated at 450 shp.
  5. It has been the rallying cry of the Commemorative (nee Confederate) Air Force ever since it was founded in 1957 for the purpose of maintaining at least one of every type of World War II aircraft in flying condition.
  6. The four-place, twin-engine Morane Saulnier MS-760 Paris jet was introduced in 1958 and preceded both the Lockheed Jetstar and the Lear Jet.
  7. Only Dr. Strangelove would have enjoyed flying a GB-1. It was a 2,000-pound glide-bomb fitted with wooden wings and tail assembly. About 1,000 of them were used unsuccessfully by the 8th Air Force during World War II before the weapon was abandoned.
  8. The first was the Cessna T-50/UC-78 Bobcat (also known as the “Bamboo Bomber”), a twin-engine taildragger built of wood, fabric, tubular aluminum, and lots of glue. The second was the famed de Havilland Mosquito, a 400-mph, twin-engine combat aircraft built almost entirely of wood.
  9. (a) This was for an Allison (General Motors) 2,300-horsepower V-1710 (a V12) at its overspeed rating of 3,400 rpm (normally limited to 3,200 rpm).
  10. (b) Farman, a French pilot and aircraft designer and manufacturer, invented flaps in 1908. They were first used on a British S.E.-4 biplane.
  11. (c) This provides enough time for turbulence in the tank to dissipate and allow any water to settle to the bottom. A six-inch-deep tank requires 7.5 minutes, and so forth.
  12. False. Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran was the first woman to exceed Mach 1.0 and Mach 2.0. She also was the first woman to land on and take off from an aircraft carrier.
  13. True. Lear dropped out after the eighth grade to tinker with radios. He got his start by designing a unique coil that attracted the attention of the Galvin Manufacturing Company. He and Paul Galvin brainstormed the name Motorola for Lear’s next invention, the automobile radio.
  14. True. The international airport (EGCN) technically serves Doncaster and Sheffield but is fewer than 40 miles from Nottingham.

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