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Trivia Testers

A few weeks ago, a Trivia Tester featured the so-called birth of carrier aviation with the world's first landing aboard a ship. So, what was really the world's first aircraft carrier?

Hold On There!
A pilot is about to shoot an instrument approach. He's flying inbound from a nearby VOR toward the Initial Approach Fix (IAF) on a radial which helps define the IAF, and which is located on the final approach course. There is no "NoPT" printed on this radial, but there is no procedure turn on the approach plate, only a holding pattern. Furthermore, the pilot is at the right altitude for the approach, has also been cleared for the approach, and the amount of turn needed for entry onto the final approach course is minimal; not only is it well under 90 degrees, but in fact it is under 20 degrees. The pilot is not under radar control.

Even though the (direct) entry into the hold would be dirt simple, is the pilot required to fly the hold before commencing the approach?

  1. No. The Aeronautical Information Manual states that a procedure turn is required only when it is necessary to perform a course reversal in order to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach course. This is also understood to apply in the case of a holding pattern.
  2. Yes, because the AIM also says (in paragraph 5-4-8a) that a procedure turn, or a hold in lieu of a procedure turn is a required maneuver.
  3. There is no correct answer to this question, because what constitutes a course reversal is itself not defined in either CFR Title 14 or the AIM (although one would guess that semantically, anything greater than 90 degrees would automatically imply a course reversal by definition, anything less than 90 would not (and perhaps exactly 90 might be "undefined").
  4. If Visual Meteorological Conditions prevail, or the heading change is under 45 degrees, no course reversal is required.

Answer: B, Your Honor, with an explanation: The Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15) offers some guidance here. On page 8-10 it notes that during such an approach, the holding pattern must be followed, except when radar vectoring to the final approach course is provided or when "NoPT" is shown on the approach course. (The Handbook doesn't define course reversal, either, by the way.) Of course, at least in many of the busier areas in the country such as the northeast, where I fly, this may be academic as one receives radar vectors almost all the time. But, whew! Those procedures! gotta love 'em!

The REAL "World's First Aircraft Carrier"
A few weeks ago, a Trivia Tester featured the so-called birth of carrier aviation with the world's first landing aboard a ship. So, what was really the world's first aircraft carrier?

  1. The USS Saratoga, although it was completed in 1927, became the first operational aircraft carrier of the United States Navy to be originally built for that purpose, in January 1928.
  2. New times required new aircraft types, and the world's first aircraft carrier belonged to the United States Navy. However, it was even earlier. In this case, it was the USS Langley, which had been converted from the collier (term for a ship used to carry coal) USS Jupiter as the Navy's first aircraft carrier, back in 1922.
  3. If a ship carries airplanes, and airplanes can take off from them, then it's an aircraft carrier, by definition if not by formally declared class. Dismissing the philosophical argument of whether the implied criterion of also being able to return to the roost must be considered, the point at which a ship first became an aircraft carrier was in November of 1910, when an airplane took off from the USS Birmingham.
  4. Actually, extending definitions a bit further, the world's first aircraft carrier dates back almost half a century earlier: to November of 1861.

Answer: D. Note that the term is and always has been "aircraft carrier" and not "airplane carrier". And yes, 1861. The aircraft in question here were balloons. The flamboyant showman Thaddeus Lowe, Chief Aeronaut of the Army of the Potomac, oversaw the conversion of the coal barge G. W. Parke Custis for the purpose of tethering, transporting, and launching one or more of the eventual inventory of seven observation balloons used for reconnaissance and artillery direction for the Union Army under General McClellan. Entering service in November of 1861, the Custis frequently towed these balloons on the Potomac River to observe the activities of Confederate forces, until the Army Balloon Corps was disbanded in the middle of 1863.

As I have already said, what was really the "first" aircraft carrier, at least for airplanes, will be argued back and forth, probably for years to come. Was it the Birmingham? the HMS Ark Royal in 1914, or the HMS Furious, later on during WW I? or the Langley, or the Saratoga? Hey, who cares? One thing will remain indisputable though: considering aircraft in general, it has to be 1861!

So Much For the "Big Sky" Theory...Even Then
The first mid-air collision (between two aircraft) occurred

  1. Would you believe 1910? And would you believe that the two pilots were brothers?
  2. in 1914, on August 26, during the first air battle on the Eastern Front during World War One. It was also, somewhat less than nobly, the first deliberate mid-air collision. Staff Captain Petr Nikolaevich Nesterov scored an aerial victory, in this case also the first ever of its kind, by ramming. It is likely that he performed this maneuver, called "Taran", our of desperation because he ran out of ammunition. In this case, he ran his propeller into the tail of an Austrian Albatross bomber. It was a Pyrrhic victory, however, because he did not survive it. (He was also the first pilot to perform an inside loop.)
  3. in 1919, between the Navy dirigible DN-1 and the Goodyear dirigible FB-1 ---yes, there was a "Goodyear blimp" of sorts, even back then, although it was acquired under Navy contract---over Akron Ohio. However they were both traveling very slowly, it was a glancing impact, and they each basically just bounced off the other, and went on their merry way.
  4. on April 21, 1929, when a Ford Tri-Motor operated by Maddux Air Lines was struck over San Diego by a single-engine Boeing B-PW-9D pursuit biplane being flown above the airliner by an Army pilot, who decided to turn steeply down and pass in front of the other airplane. Instead, he misjudged the maneuver and slammed into the cockpit of the Tri-Motor at an altitude of 2000 feet. There were no survirors.

Answer: A. Oh ye of little faith! Yes, it happened on September 8, 1910, over Wiener-Neustadt, Austria. The brothers Warchalovsky lived to fly again another day (as did one of their passengers, Archduke Leopold-Salvator), although one of them did suffer a broken leg. (And by the way, the first mid-air collision between airliners on scheduled flights occurred in 1922.) Choice C was fiction, except for the fact that there really was a Goodyear dirigible acquired by the US Navy, and the collision in choice B did occur and was most likely the first intentional mid-air. The event in choice D was, sadly, also real.

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