Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Test Pilot

General 1. Most pilots likely believe that it is safer to ditch a low-wing airplane with retractable landing gear than a high-wing airplane with retractable landing gear.


1. Most pilots likely believe that it is safer to ditch a low-wing airplane with retractable landing gear than a high-wing airplane with retractable landing gear. What are three advantages, however, of ditching a high-wing airplane?

2. From reader John Schmidt: A four-engine Avro York, the Ascalon, was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s personal transport and flying conference room. It was supposed to carry “Churchill’s Egg” but never did. What was Churchill’s Egg?

3. From reader John Lawton: What clever ploy is used on some of the Canadian Air Force’s McDonnell Douglas F/A–18 fighters to improve their combat effectiveness?

4. From reader Richard Somers: If you place a buzzard in an eight-foot by six-foot pen that is completely open at the top, why, despite its ability to fly, will the buzzard be imprisoned within the pen?

5. It used to be common practice on fighter aircraft for every fifth round of ammunition to be a tracer as an aid in aiming. Provide three reasons why using tracers was not such a great idea.

6. From reader Bill Myers: Who invented the conventional four-way control stick and rudder pedals?

7. Pilots often “pickle the trim” when activating an electrically operated elevator trim, and fighter pilots talk about “pickling a round.” How did the word pickle come to be used in reference to pushing an electrical switch?

True or False

8. From reader Russ Greenlaw: Magnetic compasses exhibit error while an airplane is turning and also while it is accelerating or decelerating. Turning and acceleration errors occur for different reasons.

9. When a pilot operates the engine on one magneto during a preflight run-up, he should observe a decrease in rpm and EGT.

10. The Cessna 337 Skymaster is a light twin with a tractor engine on the nose and a pusher engine in the rear, a “push-pull” configuration with centerline thrust. The airplane performs better with only the rear engine operating than when only the forward engine is operating.

11. It is possible for a pilot to cook an egg on a concrete runway on a hot summer day.

Multiple Choice

12. From readers Harlan and Byron Price: World War II bombers were very noisy and caused many crewmembers to experience permanent hearing loss. Typically, the captain lost hearing acuity in his _____ ear and the co-pilot in his _____ ear.

a. right, left; b. right, right; c. left, right; d. left, left

13. Shell Oil recommends that the oil in an aircraft engine without a cartridge filter be changed every _____ flight hours or every _____ months, whichever occurs first.

a. 25, 4; b. 25, 6; c. 50, 4; d. 50, 6

14. From reader Dan Murphy and for instrument-rated pilots: Choose which of the following statements is (are) true for all FAA-approved instrument approaches.

a. All approaches have a final approach fix.; b. All approaches have an initial approach fix.; c. All approaches have a missed approach point.; d. All approaches incorporate a procedure turn.


1. In a high-wing airplane, it is safer to touch down with full flaps; ailerons remain usable during deceleration; it is less likely that a wing tip will “catch” the water and cause the airplane to cartwheel.

2. Churchill’s doctors thought it unwise for him to be subjected to unpressurized flight. The egg was a pressurized aluminum capsule containing a bed, telephone, small bar, and an ashtray for his cigars.

3. They have fake canopies painted on their bellies to distract and confuse enemy pilots for a split second, which can be decisive in a dogfight.

4. A buzzard’s takeoff requirements are more like an airplane’s than most other birds. It needs to run at least 10 feet before it can fly.

5. Tracers had different ballistics; if you hit a target with tracers, you might miss with other rounds. Tracers told the enemy that he was under fire and from which direction. Loading a string of tracers at the end of the ammunition belt to indicate that you were out of ammo told your enemy the same.

6. Louis Blériot, the first person to fly across the English Channel (1909).

7. The bomb-release switch on World War II bombers was called the pickle switch. It was shaped like a dill pickle and gripped in the bombardier’s palm. He depressed a thumb-activated switch at one end of the “pickle” for “bombs away.”

8. False. Turning is a form of acceleration, so compass errors caused by turning or caused by acceleration/deceleration occur for the same reason.

9. False. When the engine operates on one magneto, not all of the fuel/air mixture is burned in the cylinders. Instead, some is burned in the exhaust manifold, creating an afterburner effect that increases EGT.

10. True. This presumably is because air thrusted rearward by the rear propeller is not impeded by some portion of the airframe.

11. False. Runway temperatures can get to 145 degrees F, but cooking an egg requires 158 degrees. A pilot can, however, cook an egg on a hot metal stabilizer, for example.

12. (a) Without an intercom, the captain slipped the right earphone of his headset off his right ear to hear his co-pilot, which left his right ear unprotected. Similarly, the co-pilot exposed his left ear to hear the captain.

13. (a) If an engine is equipped with a cartridge filter, oil should be changed every 50 hours or 4 months, whichever occurs first.

14. (c) Many approaches do not have a final approach fix or an initial approach fix or a procedure turn.

Visit the author’s website .

Related Articles