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Test PilotTest Pilot

Pilot Briefing February 2020
Illustration by John Sauer

1. Pilots might occasionally see the current altimeter setting referred to as QNH. What is the origination of this and other such Q codes?

2. The letters DC in DC–3, DC–10, and so forth, stand for

A. Douglas Civilian.
B. Douglas Commercial.
C. Douglas Company.
D. Douglas Corporation.

3. From reader John Schmidt: What does a flight attendant mean when he or she refers to a “miracle flight”?

4. Estimate within 5,000 feet the absolute ceiling of the highest flying birds.

5. From reader Brian Schiff: True or false? A pilot can enhance starting his cold-soaked, piston engine by cranking the engine with the carburetor heat turned on.

6. True or false? A pilot is descending through 1,000 feet agl while executing an instrument approach in dense cloud during the migration season. He should be concerned about the possibility of a bird strike.

7. From reader George Shanks: In 1911 Harriet Quimby became the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license, but who a year earlier became the first American woman to solo an airplane?

8. William was born a Ukrainian peasant in 1895 and became a wealthy American industrialist by inventing and manufacturing a “quarter-turn-to-lock” fastener found on most airplanes. His last name was

A. Dzeus.
B. Dzus.
C. Zeus.
D. Zuse.

Test Pilot Answers

  1. Standardized Q codes were developed in the 1920s to simplify air-traffic communications—especially on international flights—when using radiotelegraphy (Morse code). For example, QBF meant, “I am in the clouds,” QRF meant, “I am turning back,” and QRS meant, “transmit more slowly.”
  2. The answer is B. Technically, therefore, the DC–3 is the Douglas Commercial [Model Number] 3, and so forth.
  3. A flight is considered a miracle flight when a flight attendant observes a passenger who boarded in a wheelchair stand up at the end of a flight and leave without assistance. (Some passengers fake the need for a wheelchair to gain a boarding advantage of some sort. This occurs about 200 times a day at LAX.)
  4. Whooper swans have been seen at Flight Level 290 (29,000 feet msl), and the Alpine chough has been observed above Mount Everest (29,029 feet msl). The highest flying bird, however, appears to be the Rüppell’s vulture, one of which collided with a Boeing jetliner over the Ivory Coast in Africa at Flight Level 410. The bird was not equipped with a transponder.
  5. False. Induction air from the carburetor cannot be heated until after the engine has been started.
  6. False. According to the Audubon Society, birds are VFR creatures and do not fly in clouds. Like some pilots, however, small birds can get “caught” in IFR conditions and fly into tall buildings.
  7. The first American woman to solo an airplane was Bessica Raiche, a practicing dentist. Raiche and her husband built the biplane in which she flew, and Raiche later became a doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.
  8. The correct answer is B. The Dzus fastener is the most effective way to join non-structural panels (such as engine cowlings) so as to allow quick assembly and disassembly. (Zeus was a Greek god.)
Barry Schiff

Barry Schiff

Barry Schiff has been an aviation media consultant and technical advisor for motion pictures for more than 40 years.

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