Test Pilot

May 1, 2010

General:

1. What is the Cessna 305?

2. From reader John Schmidt: While flying in a single-engine Cessna, Martin Wikelski observed that dragonflies fly only during warm daylight hours. How did he determine this?

3. From reader Dan Stroud: The tails of the Piper PA–28 series of aircraft feature corrugations to strengthen the metal surfaces. Why are these corrugations concave (rounded inward) instead of convex (bulge outward)?

4. From reader Bob Kuehnle: What major aviation motion picture was used by the U.S. Air Force as an official training film?

5. Construction of what will become the world’s highest airport used by airlines will begin next year and be completed in 2014. In which country will this airport be located?

6. From reader Tony Bill: The Invasion of Normandy (a.k.a. Operation Overlord) began on June 6, 1944, which is also known as D-Day. It involved what probably was the largest armada of military aircraft ever assembled for a single purpose. What does the “D” in D-Day represent?

7. A pilot is flying over Kansas at noon under clear skies. Unbeknownst to him, the sun is suddenly extinguished. How much time would elapse before the pilot finds himself flying in total darkness?

8. From reader George Shanks: Pilots know what stalls are, but what are compressor stalls in turbofan and turbojet engines?

True or False

12. From reader Daniel Brown: The highest-scoring non-German fighter ace of all time was an American.

13. When Buzz Aldrin left the lunar lander, Eagle, to join Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission, he had to be careful not to close Eagle’s door because it did not have an outer handle.

14. It is possible to fly a conventional airplane in such a way as to reduce its stall speed to 0 knots.

Multiple Choice

9. From reader Richard Somers: An airline mechanic is taxiing a Boeing 747 from a maintenance hangar across an active runway and along active taxiways to the terminal building. He is required to have

a. an FAA pilot certificate.
b. an FAA taxi certificate.
c. a driver’s license.
d. None of the above.

10. Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first and second pilots to fly an airplane. The third person was

a. American.
b. Brazilian.
c. British.
d. French.

11. Dynamic hydroplaning occurs when water cannot get out of the way of rolling tires fast enough and literally lifts the tires off the runway surface. The speed above which this occurs depends on the

a. gross weight of the airplane.
b. tire footprint area.
c. tire pressure.
d. depth of the water.


Test Pilot Answers

1. An evolution of the Cessna 170, the Cessna 305 is the L–19 Bird Dog, a liaison aircraft that is the only tandem-seated airplane ever produced by Cessna.

2. Wikelski, a German ornithological researcher, glued tiny (0.3 gram) radio transmitters to the thoraxes of 14 dragonflies and gathered transmitted data while flying above them. He also discovered that dragonflies (like some pilots) do not fly in windy conditions.

3. Convex corrugations were used on early Cherokees but these were easily dented by careless pilots and line personnel, so concave corrugations were used on subsequent aircraft.

4. 12 O’Clock High (starring Gregory Peck) is a 1949 film based on actual events of the 8th Air Force during World War II and was used by the USAF for leadership training.

5. The 14,553-foot-high Nagqu Dagring Airport will be in Tibet. The Bambda Airport, also in Tibet, is at 14,219 msl (currently the world’s highest) and has an 18,000-foot-long runway.

6. The D stands for “day,” the unnamed day on which a particular operation commences or is to commence (according to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff). Technically, therefore, D-Day stands for “Day-Day.”

7. The sun, our closest star, is 93 million miles away, and light travels at 186,000 miles per second. The pilot would not notice the absence of sunlight until 8 minutes, 20 seconds after the event occurred. In other words, when we look at the sun, we see the way it looked 8.33 minutes earlier.

8. Abnormal airflow into engine inlets (such as caused by a strong crosswind at the beginning of takeoff) can cause compressor blades, which are miniature airfoils, to stall. This often is accompanied by a momentary loss of power and a loud bang. Modern engine designs typically preclude this problem.

9. (d) Most airport operators and air carriers, however, require such people to have received specific training and been issued a form of certification by the airport and/or the airline.

10. (b) Alberto Santos-Dumont was a Brazilian living in France. He flew an airplane of his own design, the 14-bis, on October 23, 1906, the first airplane flight verified by the Aéro Club de France.

11. (c) Dynamic hydroplaning occurs at and above a speed equal to 8.6 times the square root of the tire pressure. If tire pressure is 36 psi, for example, hydroplaning can occur at 51.6 knots and above.

12. False. Eino Ilmari Juutilainen—have fun pronouncing that name!—of the Finnish Air Force scored 94 kills against the Soviet Union during World War II. More than a third was scored while flying the hapless Brewster F2A Buffalo, and he never suffered a single hit to his airplane.

13. True. Armstrong must have been thinking, “Please, Buzz. Please don’t close the door.”

14. True. An airplane being flown at 0 Gs cannot stall. At such a time, the wings are unloaded; they carry no weight and develop no lift.

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