Test Pilot

September 1, 2013

1. The temperature of 100LL avgas in a truck sitting in the sun on a hot day is 77 degrees F. A pilot instead uses fuel pumped from an underground tank where the fuel temperature is 32 degrees F. How does this affect the range of the aircraft?

2. A pilot notices during climb that the airspeed indicator, vertical-speed indicator, and altimeter suddenly and simultaneously become erratic. And then, just as suddenly, they revert to seemingly normal operations. What is the most likely problem?

3. From reader John Schmidt: When not in battle, the belly-turret gunner in a B–17 Flying Fortress typically positioned the ball turret with guns aimed aft. This positioned the entry door of the turret in a way that enabled the gunner to climb into and out of the fuselage without his having to reposition the turret. What was the second reason for positioning the ball turret in this manner?

4. A VFR pilot requests and obtains approval from the tower controller to make a straight-out departure. The pilot should not turn until

a) outside Class D airspace.
b) beyond the traffic pattern.
c) 3 statute miles beyond the departure end of the runway.
d) 3 nautical miles beyond the departure end of the runway.
e) whenever he wants

5. What type of military aircraft was designed to destroy specific military targets while typically avoiding significant civilian casualties?

6. True or False? Some light helicopters have rotor brakes to help slow the rotors after engine shutdown. Similarly, some airplanes had propeller brakes to mechanically arrest propeller rotation following engine failure.

7. What unique feature did the first three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have in common?

8. Solar eclipses prove that the sun and the moon each occupy (subtend) the same angle of the sky. What is the size of the angle occupied in the sky by the sun or the moon?

a) 0.5 degrees
b) 1.0 degrees
c) 2.0 degrees
d) 4.0 degrees


1. The warm fuel weighs 5.70 pounds per gallon, and the cold fuel weighs 5.93 ppg. (Refer to FAA’s Aircraft Weight and Balance Handbook.) The cold fuel, therefore, is 4 percent more dense than the warm fuel and would increase range by this amount.

2. Water in the static line. The erratic indications are caused by air bubbling through trapped water.

3. The B–17’s relief tube exited the bottom of the fuselage forward of the ball turret. If the guns and the gunner’s viewing area were pointed forward when at altitude, a yellow cloud could freeze on the turret and impede the gunner’s ability to aim at enemy aircraft.

4. (e) There is no legal definition for a straight-out departure. A pilot should exercise his best judgment.

5. Dive bombers. Arguably the best known was Germany’s World War II Junkers Ju–87 Stuka. An incredibly accurate bomber, it could be placed into a truly vertical dive without exceeding redline airspeed. The pilot essentially stood on the rudder pedals.

6. True. Such brakes were used before the popular acceptance of constant-speed, full-feathering propellers to eliminate the drag caused by windmilling and possibly prevent further engine damage.

7. They were converted from other types of ships. The first, the U.S.S. Langley, had originally been a coal carrier. The second and third, the U.S.S. Lexington and the U.S.S. Saratoga, were being constructed as battle cruisers but were converted to aircraft carriers before construction had been completed.

8. a) The sun and the moon only appear to be larger. It would require 360 full moons (touching at their edges) to span an overhead arc of the sky that connects the east and west horizons.