Test Pilot

May 1, 2009


  1. From reader John Schmidt: Under what circumstances might a German secret agent during World War II have found himself strapped to the wing of a dive bomber?
  2. From reader Paul Odum: What was the first engine to be equipped with a throttle that enabled the pilot to adjust fuel flow, propeller pitch, mixture, and ignition timing using only this one lever?
  3. What is the only single-engine piston-powered airplane that is FAA certified with an engine that has full-authority digital engine control (FADEC)?
  4. From reader Steve Madorsky: What was the first flight instrument to be usd on a fixed-wing aircraft?
  5. From reader Gary Underland: What was the Lear LDP5 Omniscope?
  6. Who wrote, “My soul is in the sky”?
  7. From reader Dan Stroud: What is the only U.S. military turbofan airplane that may be flown using all of its thrust reversers in flight?
  8. The landing gear of the space shuttle is not extended until immediately before touchdown. What means are used to ensure that the gear extends in time?


  9. Which one of the following does not belong?

    a. compression
    b. evaporation
    c. humidity
    d. reduced air pressure

  10. The FAA does not require U.S. airlines to weigh each passenger to determine the gross takeoff weight of an airliner. Instead, airlines are allowed to calculate gross weight using one of the following standard (average) passenger weights (including their summer clothing)?

    a. men, 180 pounds;
    women 159 pounds
    b. men, 190 pounds;
    women 159 pounds
    c. men, 200 pounds;
    women 179 pounds
    d. men, 210 pounds;
    women 179 pounds

  11. From reader Richard Wilsher: Luftwaffe and Messerschmitt 109 ace Horst Rippert says he shot down a P-38 Lightning over the Mediterranean Sea near Toulon, France on July 31, 1944. Years later, Rippert said he never would have fired on the aircraft had he known that the pilot was

    a. Winston Churchill's son.
    b. a famous musician.
    c. a popular actor.
    d. his favorite author.


  12. From reader Dan Murphy: A flight instructor is allowed to log instrument approaches conducted by his students in actual conditions and may count those approaches to maintain his required currency.
  13. The first seaplane to fly around the world was a Douglas World Cruiser
  14. From reader George Shanks: The origin of “logbook” and “logging time” has to do with wood logs.




  1. The Junkers JU–87D-3 Stuka dive bomber was evaluated with a personnel pod mounted above each wing. The pods could be released during a shallow dive and be “paradropped” to deliver secret agents behind enemy lines. The scheme, however, never became operational (to the relief of said agents).
  2. The BMW 801 twin-row, 14-cylinder radial engine was equipped with a Kommandogerä (command device) that allowed pilots of several World War II German aircraft to control engine power using only a single lever. The lever also controlled the supercharger setting.
  3. The Liberty XL2 has a four-cylinder, Teledyne Continental IOF-240-B engine that delivers 125 horsepower. The “F” in the alpha-numeric designator represents FADEC.
  4. A yaw string (also called a slip string) was used on the Wright brothers’ 1902 glider and several of their subsequent aircraft. It performs the same function as the ball in a turn-and-bank indicator but is more sensitive.
  5. One of the first—it might have been the first-omni (VOR) indicators was a small, circular, cathode-ray tube installed on the instrument panel. It had a compass rose etched on its circumference, and a radar-like blip indicated the radial on which the aircraft was positioned. It did not have a To/From indicator.
  6. William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act V, Scene I).
  7. With all four thrust reversers deployed, a Boeing C–17 Globemaster can stabilize in an approximately 70-degree tactical descent while indicating 285 knots.
  8. The landing gear is extended conventionally using hydraulics, but a backup system of explosive charges is used should the hydraulic system fail.
  9. (a) The other three items (b, c, and d) are factors in the formation of carburetor ice.
  10. (c) Five pounds are added for winter weights (November 1 through April 30). Average passenger weights are revised when and if data from government health agencies show that the average American has gotten at least 2 percent heavier.
  11. (d) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the beloved aviation writer (Wind, Sand, and Stars; Night Flight; The Little Prince; and others), was killed during a flight for the Free French Forces to collect intelligence on German troop movements near the Rhône Valley preceding the Allied invasion of southern France. He is regarded as one of the best aviation authors of all time.
  12. True. An instructor’s oversight responsibility is considered the same as actually executing the approach.
  13. False. Two DWCs, the Chicago and the New Orleans, were first to fly around the world, but wheels were substituted for floats on some of the legs; they were not seaplanes for the entire globe-girdling journey.
  14. True. Sailors on sailing vessels of yore placed a log in the water and timed how long it took for the log to float aft. This provided a measure of the ship’s water speed. These speeds (and later, ships’ journeys) were entered into a “ship’s log,” which eventually led to the aviation logbook.