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Test Pilot

GENERAL From reader Mark Baird: Modern windshields slope aft to minimize drag. Why, then, did a number of airplanes in the 1920s and 1930s have windshields that sloped forward? From reader Capt.


  1. From reader Mark Baird: Modern windshields slope aft to minimize drag. Why, then, did a number of airplanes in the 1920s and 1930s have windshields that sloped forward?
  2. From reader Capt. Bob Ryan: What is tankering?
  3. From reader Tony Bill: Parachutes were available during World War I. Why did British pilots not use them?
  4. What percentage of thunderstorms in the United States produces tornadoes?
  5. From reader John Lawton: Where is the world's highest-elevation commercial airport (one at which scheduled airline service is provided)?
  6. Speaking of high airports, where is the world's lowest-elevation airport?
  7. From reader Ted Ripp: Today there are two grades of aviation gasoline, 80 and 100 (100LL) octane. What were the six grades available during the 1950s?
  8. From reader John Schmidt: "Climbing Vines," "Homing Pigeons," and "Gadflies" were names considered for what well-known aviation organization?


  1. From reader Richard Wilsher: The first airplane used by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was the
    1. F-84F Thunderstreak.
    2. F-84G Thunderjet.
    3. F-86 Sabre.
    4. F-100 Super Sabre.
  2. When an airplane is at rest, ram pressure in the pitot tube obviously is zero. What indicated airspeed would be necessary at sea level for the ram air pressure in the pitot tube to equal the standard, sea-level pressure of 14.7 psi?
    1. 159.4 knots
    2. 361.8 knots
    3. 511.3 knots
    4. Airspeed would be supersonic.


  1. From reader Paul Reinman: Match each of the first six airplanes manufactured by de Havilland Canada with its correct "dash" (model) number.
    1. Buffalo
    2. Beaver
    3. Twin Otter
    4. Chipmunk
    5. Otter
    6. Caribou
    1. DHC-1
    2. DHC-2
    3. DHC-3
    4. DHC-4
    5. DHC-5
    6. DHC-6


  1. From reader Rod Bradley: There is an airport where a passenger train regularly crosses Runway 26, an 8,000-foot-long runway served by an instrument approach. The train has right-of-way over landing aircraft.
  2. From reader Larry Westin: Mooney Aircraft has never built a twin-engine airplane.
  3. The first electronic device designed to prevent midair collisions was developed by Germany during World War II.


  1. Such aircraft lacked glare shields because the windshield attached immediately above the instrument panel. Thus, night vision was denigrated by instrument-lighting glare when looking through vertical or aft-sloping windshields. Attaching the windshield forward of the panel created the glare shield, a later improvement, allowing windshields to slope rearward without reflecting glare.
  2. It is carrying (or tankering) more fuel (usually in large, turbine airplanes) than is needed for a flight to avoid some or all of the higher cost of buying fuel at the destination even though more fuel is burned while flying at a heavier gross weight.
  3. The Royal Air Board believed that parachutes would impair the fighting spirit of pilots and cause them to abandon machines capable of being returned to base for repair.
  4. One percent.
  5. Bangda, China (ZUBD) is in the Tibetan Highlands at an elevation of 14,219 feet msl and has a single, 18,045-foot-long runway. When the ambient temperature is 75 degrees Fahrenheit, density altitude is 18,300 feet. (A portable oxygen bottle is needed to conduct the preflight inspection.)
  6. The Masada Bar Yehuda Airport (LLMZ) in Israel's Judean Desert is 1,246 feet below sea level and adjacent to the western edge of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth.
  7. 73, 80/87, 91/98, 100/130, 108/135, and 115/145.
  8. The Ninety Nines considered these names (as well as "Noisy Birdwomen") during their organizational meeting in November 1929.
  9. (b) The F-84G Thunderjet had straight wings, and the F-84F Thunderstreak had swept wings.
  10. (d) Physicist Roger Freedman calculates a Mach number of 1.2, corresponding to an indicated airspeed of 790 knots (excluding the effect of compression).
  11. DHC-1 Chipmunk (the "Chippy"), DHC-2 Beaver, DHC-3 Otter, DHC-4 Caribou, DHC-5 Buffalo, DHC-6 Twin Otter.
  12. True. Ground crews at RAF Ballykelly in Northern Ireland checked the runway for debris after each train passage and once found a sheep that had been hit by the Londonderry-Belfast train. Now called Shackleton Barracks, the runway and train remain operational.
  13. False. In 1958 Mooney designed, built and flew one Mark 22 Twin. It was the first use of the Mark 22 designation. The airplane looked like a Piper Apache but had the distinctive Mooney tail. It never entered production.
  14. False. The first such device was developed in the United States well after the war.

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