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Test PilotTest Pilot

Pilot Briefing May 2021
Illustration by John Sauer
  1. True or false? If a pilot is intercepted by a U.S. military aircraft, he should immediately squawk the emergency transponder code of 7700.
  2. Why did early pilots refer to their autopilots as “George” (as in “let George do it”)?
  3. Who was first to fly a homebuilt airplane around the world, and what type of aircraft was it?
  4. In what year was the greatest number of aircraft manufactured in the United States?
  5. From reader Charles Baumann: Orville Wright made his first powered flight in the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903. When and in what type of airplane did he make his last flight?
  6. The most famous of all airships was the Hindenburg. Who or what was Hindenburg?
  7. From reader John Schmidt: During World War I, pilots used flechettes against their enemies. What are flechettes?
  8. The actual magnetic heading of an airplane in a stabilized inverted turn is increasing. (When viewed from above, the aircraft is turning in a clockwise direction.) During this turn, the conventional (wet) compass
    A. indicates a constant heading.
    B. indicates a steady decrease in magnetic heading.
    C. indicates a steady increase in magnetic heading.
    D. is unpredictable.

Test Pilot Answers

  1. True, unless otherwise instructed by air traffic control.
  2. Early autopilots were called gyroscopic or G systems. In the old phonetic alphabet, “George” (instead of “Golf”) represented the letter “G.”
  3. Don Taylor built a Lycoming-powered Thorp T–18 and used it to fly around the world in 1976. He also flew the homebuilt on a roundtrip to Australia in 1980 and to the North Pole in 1984.
  4. There were 96,369 aircraft built in 1944, the last full year of World War II.
  5. Howard Hughes set a transcontinental speed record in a Lockheed Constellation on April 17, 1944. Returning to California on April 26, the aircraft landed at Wright Field in Dayton to pick up Orville Wright, who manipulated the controls during his 50-minute flight over Dayton.
  6. Paul von Hindenburg was the second president of the Weimar Republic and appointed Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany in 1933. The mammoth airship was to have been named the Hitler, but Hitler would not permit his name to be used on anything that could fail or be destroyed.
  7. Flechettes are steel darts that were dropped on ground troops in great numbers. One French pilot dropped 18,000 of them over German lines in one day. Dropped from altitude, flechettes fell at great speed and became as lethal as bullets.
  8. The correct answer is D. An inverted compass card does not rest on its jeweled pivot point as it does during normal flight. It instead is contacting some part of the internal structure of the instrument, which makes card movement erratic and unpredictable.
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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