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The Hardest Aircraft Performance Quiz You'll Take This Week

Chris Cantrell

Do you have what it takes?


  1. 1) You and a friend are in two identical airplanes at the same altitude. You're 300lbs under max gross weight, and your friend is at max gross weight. Both of your engines quit at the same time, and you both pitch for your aircraft's best speed to achieve the max lift-to-drag ratio (L/D). What happens next?

    When you pitch for best glide, you are converting your airplane's potential energy (altitude) into kinetic energy (speed) in order to optimize the maximum distance you are able to travel in a power off situation. Changes in weight directly affect the indicated airspeed for which best glide is maintained. So the heavier aircraft will have a higher indicated airspeed (more kinetic energy) and a higher rate of descent meaning the heavier aircraft will reach the runway quicker. An lighter aircraft of the same model will cover the same horizontal distance but will take a longer period of time to do so.

    When you pitch for best glide, you are converting your airplane's potential energy (altitude) into kinetic energy (speed) in order to optimize the maximum distance you are able to travel in a power off situation. Changes in weight directly affect the indicated airspeed for which best glide is maintained. So the heavier aircraft will have a higher indicated airspeed (more kinetic energy) and a higher rate of descent meaning the heavier aircraft will reach the runway quicker. An lighter aircraft of the same model will cover the same horizontal distance but will take a longer period of time to do so.

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  2. 2) You touch down on a short runway and start applying maximum braking. Suddenly, your right wheel locks up and starts skidding. Which way does your aircraft turn?

    When your tires lock up and skid, small beads of rubber roll off the tire due to the tremendous amount of friction with the ground. This reduces the wheel's braking effectiveness, which is why your aircraft tends to turn in the direction of the wheel that isn't locked up.

    When your tires lock up and skid, small beads of rubber roll off the tire due to the tremendous amount of friction with the ground. This reduces the wheel's braking effectiveness, which is why your aircraft tends to turn in the direction of the wheel that isn't locked up.

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  3. 3) You took off from your local airport and you're climbing out at Vy, which is giving you a 500 FPM climb. You experience an increased headwind. Your VSI shows...

    If you are climbing out at Vy and 500 ft/min, an increase in headwind will only affect your ground speed. The rate and airspeed you climb will remain constant. However, the distance you cover over the ground will be reduced because of the increase in headwind.

    If you are climbing out at Vy and 500 ft/min, an increase in headwind will only affect your ground speed. The rate and airspeed you climb will remain constant. However, the distance you cover over the ground will be reduced because of the increase in headwind.

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  4. 4) You're flying an aircraft that isn't certified for flight into known ice. On an IFR flight, you inadvertently pick up considerable amounts of ice on the leading edge of the wings and tail. Should you extend full flaps for landing?

    When you extend your flaps, the center of pressure moves aft on the airfoil, causing a forward pitching moment about the lateral axis. In order to compensate for this pitching moment, a greater tail down force is needed. If your horizontal tail has ice buildup on the leading edge, an increased angle-of-attack on it may cause it to exceed the critical angle of attack, resulting in a tailplane stall.

    When you extend your flaps, the center of pressure moves aft on the airfoil, causing a forward pitching moment about the lateral axis. In order to compensate for this pitching moment, a greater tail down force is needed. If your horizontal tail has ice buildup on the leading edge, an increased angle-of-attack on it may cause it to exceed the critical angle of attack, resulting in a tailplane stall.

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  5. 5) You reach rotation speed in your Cessna 180, lift off, and pitch for Vy. This airspeed provides...

    When you pitch for Vy, it gives us the maximum excess power produced by our engine. In turn, this speed will give us the best rate-of-climb or the greatest altitude gain over a specific time frame. This allows us to reach our cruising altitude in the shortest amount of time.

    When you pitch for Vy, it gives us the maximum excess power produced by our engine. In turn, this speed will give us the best rate-of-climb or the greatest altitude gain over a specific time frame. This allows us to reach our cruising altitude in the shortest amount of time.

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  6. 6) As your true airspeed increases...

    As you accelerate and your true airspeed increases, the amount of parasite drag will rise exponentially due to increased aircraft interference with the air. However, induced drag decreases because you need a lower angle-of-attack in order to maintain a desired altitude at a higher true airspeed.

    As you accelerate and your true airspeed increases, the amount of parasite drag will rise exponentially due to increased aircraft interference with the air. However, induced drag decreases because you need a lower angle-of-attack in order to maintain a desired altitude at a higher true airspeed.

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Better luck next time...

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That was pretty tough...

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You know your stuff!

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