Test Pilot

January 1, 2010

General

1. From reader Gerd Wengler: What is the world’s most northerly airport?

2. What does he mean when a sailplane (glider) pilot returns from a flight and reports having had a sled ride?

3. From reader Brian Schiff: Runway numbers sometimes have a single-letter suffix. Runways 16R, 16L, and 16C, for example, represent right, left and center runways. What is the meaning of Runway 16T, for example?

4. Why is it important when making an emergency, off-airport landing on unimproved ground in a North American P–51 Mustang to land with the landing gear retracted?

5. From reader John Schmidt: When referring to the missions of some Consolidated B–24 Liberators during World War II, what were “Carpetbaggers” and “Joe holes”?

6. By what four names was the Curtiss P–40 known?

7. From reader David Hall: What was a “Denver go-valve?”

Multiple Choice

8. From reader Paul Reinman: “It’s wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God, and I have no fears.” This prose was written by:

a. Ernest Gann in his first book, Sky Roads.
b. Helen Keller during a flight around the world.
c. John Gillespie Magee Jr. in a discarded draft of High Flight.
d. Guy Murchie in his book, Song of the Sky.

9. The phrase, “have numbers,” is used by pilots to advise ATC that they have the:

a. altimeter setting.
b. runway and approach in use.
c. current ATIS information.
d. runway in use, wind velocity and altimeter setting.

10. The typical price paid by the U.S. government for a new North American P–51D Mustang during World War II was:

a. $6,572.
b. $21,572.
c. $36,572.
d. $51,572.

11. Glenn Miller, famed American jazz musician, arranger, composer and band leader of the swing era, disappeared on December 15, 1944, during a flight from southern England to Paris where he was to entertain troops who had recently liberated the French capital. The airplane in which he disappeared was a:

a. Beech C–45 Expediter.
b. Noorduhn (Nordyne) UC–64 Norseman.
c. Westland Lysander Mk.1.
d. Stinson L–12 Reliant.

True or False

12. From reader Edward Story: The U.S. Interstate Highway System was born during the Eisenhower Administration. A provision of the legislation required that one mile in every five be straight so that these segments could be used as “emergency airstrips” in case of war.

13. The first production airplane manufactured by North American Aviation was the T–6 Texan.

14. From reader Thomas Nagorski: During an episode of Star Trek, Mr. Spock was seen using the iconic Dalton E6B computer to calculate precisely when the Enterprise would smash into a planet.


Answers

1. Canadian Forces Station Alert (CYLT) is on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island at a north latitude of 82.5 degrees (450 nm from the True North Pole). It also is the northernmost, permanently inhabited place in the world.

2. It is a flight during which no altitude is gained following release from the tow plane. The aircraft simply glides downhill like a sled.

3. Magnetic compasses are unreliable within a thousand miles or so of the North Magnetic Pole. Runways in this region are labeled according to their true directions. Runway 16T has a true direction of 160 degrees.

4. If this taildragger noses over and flips onto its back, the top of the canopy could wind up being pushed into the ground making escape impossible.

5. Carpetbaggers were B–24s with dampers to suppress exhaust flames. They had no guns and were painted flat black. They flew covertly over France at night and dropped agents (anonymous “Joes”) and equipment for resistance fighters through “Joe holes,” the openings left after ball turrets had been removed from the bellies.

6. Hawk (models built specifically for France), Warhawk (U.S. Army Air Corps), Tomahawk (a British designation), and Kittyhawk (other Allied users).

7. Early commercial jets were underpowered. At high-density-altitude airports, pilots could activate a valve that fed false signals to the engines’ fuel controllers. This made the engines “think” they were at sea level and produce more thrust and higher temperatures for a limited period during takeoff.

8. (b) Helen Keller was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf-and-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.

9. (d) “Have numbers” is explained in the Pilot/Controller Glossary in the AIM. It may not be used to indicate that the ATIS has been received.

10. (d) They paid $51,572. Not long after the war, surplus Mustangs sold for about $500 including fuel in the tanks. A well-maintained model is now worth substantially more than a million dollars.

11. (b) The Norseman is a large Canadian-built, high-wing, single-engine taildragger with a Pratt & Whitney 600-horsepower radial engine. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 7,400 pounds and seats up to 10. Miller’s airplane was never found.

12. False. This is an urban myth. It would be illogical to close highways during an emergency when moving personnel and materiel on the ground without interference probably would be more important.

13. False. North American’s first were the GA–15 observation airplane and GA–16 trainer. They were similar to the T–6 in that they were low-wing, all-metal taildraggers powered by radial engines.

14. True. It was in the episode, The Naked Time.

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