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Test Pilot

A good pilot is always learning.

General 1. Why is it that VFR pilots flying in Class B airspace are required only to remain clear of clouds but when operating in Class C, D, or E airspace must remain specified distances from clouds? 2.


1. Why is it that VFR pilots flying in Class B airspace are required only to remain clear of clouds but when operating in Class C, D, or E airspace must remain specified distances from clouds?

2. From reader John Schmidt: GPS was to have been used exclusively by the U.S. military. What event caused President Ronald Reagan to make GPS available to private and commercial aviation?

3. Grumman Aircraft designed and manufactured three popular twin-engine amphibians for the civilian market, the G–21, the G–44, and the G–73. What were the names of these models?

4. From reader Keith Myers: Under what conditions was it suggested that a pilot in the United States fly triangular patterns with two-minute legs?

5. From reader George Shanks: Why is there a copper penny welded to the front of many Pratt & Whitney radial engines?

6. From reader Walt Dalitsch: What was the first aviation instrument that enabled pilots to fly on instruments?

7. Name the first aircraft manufacturer to employ the use of leading-edge slats and slots.

8. When we think of Japanese military aircraft from World War II, the name Mitsubishi usually comes quickly to mind. How many of the other eight Japanese aircraft manufacturers can you name?

Multiple Choice

9. What is the most likely cause of an accident resulting from a climbing downwind turn (in a strong, steady-state wind) near the ground and shortly after takeoff?

a. The pilot failed to account for the increased stall speed unique to turning downwind.
b. An airplane tends to overbank more during a downwind turn than an upwind turn.
c. During a downwind turn, the headwind becomes a tailwind that causes a loss of airspeed.
d. The pilot reacts to a sense of increasing groundspeed.

10. With respect to encountering an increasing-tailwind type of wind shear, which of the following do/does not belong?

a. Airplane tends to sink.
b. Groundspeed increases.
c. Indicated airspeed increases.
d. Pitch attitude decreases.

True or False

11. From Gordon McKinzie: Everything else being equal, a given airliner operated more efficiently when passengers were allowed to smoke en route than after 1988 when the smoking ban took effect.

12. As its name implies, an aircraft or automotive alternator produces alternating current (AC).

13. From reader Mike Piccola: Upward-folding wing tips are an available option for purchasers of the Boeing 777. This enables the aircraft to fit in relatively small parking spaces.

14. From reader Dan Murphy: A pilot preflighting an airplane notices that each rivet head has a circular indentation. This is caused by the device that drives the rivet.

15. This is the final edition of “Test Pilot.”


1. VFR pilots in Class B airspace operate on clearances from air traffic control in a radar environment and are kept safely separated from other traffic. This kind of service is not necessarily provided in Class C, D, or E airspace.

2. The shooting down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 on September 1, 1983, was because, in part, of navigational errors.

3. The Goose, the Widgeon, and the Mallard, respectively. The first two were taildraggers, and the third had tricycle landing gear. (The G–64 Albatross was not developed for general aviation, but many are now privately owned.)

4. During the 1950s and 1960s a right-hand triangular pattern indicated to a radar controller that the pilot could no longer transmit. A left-hand pattern indicated total communications failure. This procedure is still in use in some places outside the United States.

5. The prevailing opinion is that factory workers would mar a penny and weld it to the engine because “a bad penny always comes back” (paraphrasing the expression, “a bad penny always turns up”).

6. The turn indicator was invented in 1917 by Dr. Elmer A. Sperry, who developed the gyroscope, and his son, Lawrence B. Sperry.

7. The British firm of Handley Page Limited. Slats and slots were so successful that licensing fees from other companies were its main source of income during the early 1920s.

8. Aichi, Kawanishi, Kawasaki, Kokusai, Kyushu, Nakajima, Tachikawa, Yokosuka.

9. (d) As the pilot peripherally senses increasing groundspeed during a downwind turn, he might unwittingly interpret this as an unwanted airspeed increase and raise the nose. The increasing pitch can result in a low-altitude stall.

10. (c) An increasing-tailwind type of shear has the same effect as a decreasing-headwind type of shear.

11. True. When passengers smoked, the nicotine tar residue caulked joints and seams in the fuselage. Newer aircraft in which no one had smoked did not hold pressurization as well as the older aircraft. Pressurization systems had to work harder, which degraded engine efficiency.

12. True. A rectifier converts this AC power to direct current for use in vehicles requiring DC electrical power.

13. False. Although once considered, the cost and structural weight required to provide such an option would have made this impractical.

14. False. It indicates that the rivet is made of 2117 aluminum alloy. Differently shaped indentations indicate different alloys. (See if your flight instructor knows this.)

15. True. After 199 quizzes that included 2,806 questions over almost 17 years, this is indeed the final edition of “Test Pilot.” It’s been a great ride. —Barry Schiff

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