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Trivia Teaser: Go Ahead, Make Your Day

True or False: America actually had a designated airplane the sole function of which was to be shot at. Oh, and it wasn’t a drone; it was manned, with a live (and possibly not always quite enthusiastically willing) pilot.

True or False: America actually had a designated airplane the sole function of which was to be shot at. Oh, and it wasn’t a drone; it was manned, with a live (and possibly not always quite enthusiastically willing) pilot.

It’s absolutely true. About 300 Bell RP-63A Kingcobras were built during WW II. Although its armor was removed, it had an extra layer of about 1,500 pounds of duraluminum, a bulletproof glass canopy, a thick-walled propeller, and a steel grille over the air intake and exhaust. They were usually painted bright orange to improve visibility. (The practicing gunnery pilots did use frangible bullets, however.)

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About This Author:
Jeff Pardo is an aviation writer in Maryland with commercial ASEL, instrument, helicopter, and glider ratings. He started flying in 1989 and has about 1500 hours. Jeff holds a bachelors in meteorology and oceanography, as well as an MS in marine science. Prior to his present tenure at SES, Jeff worked in flight dynamics for various telecommunication firms for 15 years. He has flown mostly Cessna and Piper airplanes and R-22 helicopters, and has about 70 hours in J3 and Citabria aircraft. He has flown as a mission pilot for the Civil Air Patrol, as a mission pilot for Angel Flight, and he was a contributing editor for AOPA Flight Training for about 10 years.
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