March 1, 2007
By Barry Schiff
GENERAL The Canadian-built robotic arm, Canadarm2, on the International Space Station weighs almost 2 tons. Why does it need to be so strong and heavy when the items that it moves are weightless in orbit? Why is it a good idea to have available a very small quantity of water when draining fuel during preflight inspections? From reader Bob Lippincott: After France fell to Germany in 1940, the Royal Canadian Air Force received North American NA-64 Yale trainers (T-6s with fixed landing gear) originally destined for the French Air Force.
- The Canadian-built robotic arm, Canadarm2, on the International Space Station weighs almost 2 tons. Why does it need to be so strong and heavy when the items that it moves are weightless in orbit?
- Why is it a good idea to have available a very small quantity of water when draining fuel during preflight inspections?
- From reader Bob Lippincott: After France fell to Germany in 1940, the Royal Canadian Air Force received North American NA-64 Yale trainers (T-6s with fixed landing gear) originally destined for the French Air Force. What significant modification had to be made to these airplanes to make them suitable for RCAF pilots?
- From reader Richard Somers: A pilot in the cabin hears the captain of his airline flight announce, "We'll be cruising at 41,000 feet." He turns on his handheld GPS to monitor flight progress. Why does the altitude indicated on the GPS go up and down several hundred feet during the flight?
- From reader Richard Wilsher: What make and model of airplane was first to fly with turboprop power?
- From reader Hugh Schoelzel: Who was the French hydraulics engineer whose work involving the flow of water in canals and rivers in the eighteenth century led to a device found on all airplanes?
- From reader June Barchenko: What did Leonard M. Greene invent that contributed so greatly to general aviation safety?
- From reader Hal Fishman: The Gee Bee R-1 and R-2 Supersportsters were among the best and most notorious racing planes ever built. What did the letters G and B represent, and what unique fate befell all that were built?
- A member of which of the following famous American families was a three-time U.S. National Soaring Champion, set numerous distance records, funded the Soaring Society of America during the Depression, and headed the U.S. Army's American Glider Program for Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold during World War II?
- Aronson (Ronson lighters)
- du Pont
- From reader Jeff Pardo: Who are the Quiet Birdmen?
- A fraternal organization of pilots founded by Charles Lindbergh.
- An informal organization of pilots who have experienced and survived an actual engine failure.
- A fraternal organization of sailplane enthusiasts founded by Orville Wright.
- An organization of pilots with hearing and/or speaking disabilities.
- From reader John Tiller: The first pilot to fly a complete circle in an airplane was
- Glen Curtiss.
- Alberto Santos-Dumont.
- Orville Wright.
- Wilbur Wright.
TRUE OR FALSE
- From reader Mark Barchenko: Those who suffer from acrophobia (a fear of heights) are more likely to fear flying than those who do not.
- From reader Vader Shelton Jr.: Older Mooney aircraft have manual landing gear systems that are operated with a long handle between the front seats. Pulling the handle up raises the gear, and vice versa.
- From reader Bruce Bennington: A pilot may not exceed an indicated airspeed of 200 knots when operating within Class C or Class D airspace.
TEST PILOT ANSWERS
- Although the objects are weightless, they still have mass (inertia), and considerable force is required to accelerate them from a resting condition. (Force = mass X acceleration.) The arm must be sturdy so as not to break or bend.
- Under some lighting conditions it is difficult to tell the difference between a narrow tube of fuel and one that is all water. Adding water to the sample creates an immediate separation of water and fuel. If the sample is all water, there is no such visible separation.
- The throttle linkage had to be reversed. French aircraft of that era required the pilot to move the throttle rearward to increase power and forward to reduce power. (That's not why the French lost the war.)
- Pilots do not maintain a fixed altitude when above 17,999 feet msl. They fly along constant-pressure surfaces (flight levels) with altimeters set to 29.92 inches Hg. These surfaces, or pressure altitudes, undulate as they pass through high- and low-pressure areas.
- A British Gloster Meteor was modified with two Rolls-Royce RB-250 Trent engines and first flew in October 1945.
- Henri Pitot (1695-1771) invented the pitot tube in 1732.
- The stall-warning indicator and later the angle-of-attack indicator.
- The Supersportsters were built by the Granville brothers and all eventually crashed. The Gee Bee currently seen at airshows is a replica.
- (b) Richard C. du Pont also partnered in 1933 with Hawley Bowlus, shop foreman during the building of the Spirit of St. Louis, to form the Bowlus-DuPont Sailplane Co., which made gliders in California.
- (a) At their meetings, members of the "Anciente [sic] and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen" are not as quiet as their name would suggest. Lindbergh's founding of the "QBs" has not been confirmed.
- (d) The circle was flown in 1.5 minutes on September 20, 1904, at Huffman Prairie, an 85-acre pasture that was the Wrights' test field near Dayton.
- False. There is no apparent correlation between acrophobia and fear of flying. Psychologists say that fear of flying seems more closely related to claustrophobia (as is the fear of riding on trains).
- False. Although counterintuitive, it is the other way around. When the handle is up, the gear is down, and vice versa.
- False. The 200-knot limit applies only when at or below 2,500 feet above the surface and within four nm of a primary airport defining such airspace. Class C and Class D airspace often extend above 2,500 feet and/or beyond four nm of the airport.
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