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Trivia Testers

There was an aircraft that, while it may not have had the noise output of the Valkyrie supersonic bomber from an earlier Trivia Tester, produced sound which proved to be even more troublesome than that which puts one's hearing at risk.

Beyond the Third Degree
We've all heard of the three axes commonly discussed regarding an aircraft's attitude and resulting movement in three dimensions: pitch, roll, and yaw. But actually when it comes to flight training devices, there are actually three more components of motion. What are they?

  1. lateral, longitudinal, and vertical acceleration
  2. heave, surge, and sway
  3. quite simply: up, down, and sideways
  4. spin, lift, and frequency

Answer: B. The familiar roll, pitch, and yaw are angular. Heave, pitch, and sway however are linear. They are simply terms for displacement and lateral motion. Together they make up the six "degrees of freedom" in the motion we experience. These terms are used both in reference to ships at sea (or as in the case of this example to the right, ducks in the bathtub), as well as the motion platforms on which some of us get to ride, aka: flight simulators. Surge is "forward and back" along the longitudinal, or roll axis. (Just think of "surging forward".) Sway is sideways, along the lateral, or pitch axis. (Just think of swaying palm trees, if that helps.) And heave is "up and down" along the vertical, or yaw axis. (Perhaps the image of a "heaving deck" on rough seas might help. More bubble bath, anyone?)

The Highest Runway In the East
Where and how high is the highest runway east of the Mississippi?

  1. Bangda, Georgia, at 4784 feet MSL
  2. Burnsville, North Carolina, at 4,432 feet
  3. Mitchell Field, North Carolina, at 6684 feet
  4. Albuquerque, Tennessee, 6492 feet

Answer: B. The fly-in community of Mountain Air, located on the top of Slickrock Mountain outside of Burnsville, North Carolina has a 2900 x 50 foot runway that is 4,432 feet above mean sea level, and is not only the highest airport east of the Mississippi but (they say) east of the Rockies, as well. This claim could be a stretch, since there are several airports in western Nebraska, Texas, and South Dakota which are close to, or over, a mile high, such as Custer County in South Dakota, at 5,602 feet MSL. (Kimball Municipal in Nebraska is at 4,926 feet, and in Texas, Marfa Municipal is at 4,849 feet MSL. It really depends on your definition of what "east of the Rockies" really means.) Anyway, Mountain Air's country club is at 4390 feet, and they have a spectacular "airway fairway" (golf course). The pattern altitude is 5400 feet MSL. North Carolina's highest public-use airport, according to the AOPA database, is Ashe County in Jefferson NC, at 3180 MSL, and according to the same database, the highest public-use airport in the East is Ingalls Field in Hot Springs VA, at 3792 feet. Of course, it depends on what you mean by "the east"...

As far as highest runways in the Far East, or anywhere else on the planet, Changdu Bangda airport (ZUBD) in eastern Tibet (not Georgia) is currently the world's highest public-use airport, at 14,219 feet above sea level. (Its runways are over 18,000 feet long.) La Paz, Bolivia's JFK (SLLP), used to be called the world's highest airport at 13,313 feet. Lhasa's Gonggar airport in Tibet's capital (ZULS) is still a respectable 11,621 feet. Regarding choice C, North Carolina's Mt. Mitchell, at 6,684 feet, is the highest point east of the Mississippi, and as far as choice D goes, there is no Albuquerque in Tennessee. (However, there is a Mountainair Municipal that is actually in Albuquerque New Mexico, at 6492 feet, as well as Angel Fire airport, at 8380 feet.)

On Beyond Noisy

There was an aircraft that, while it may not have had the noise output of the Valkyrie supersonic bomber from an earlier Trivia Tester, produced sound which proved to be even more troublesome than that which puts one's hearing at risk. Which one was it?

  1. the Hiller YH-32 Hornet
  2. the Bachem Ba-349 Natter
  3. the Republic XF-84H Thundershriek
  4. the Brewster F2A Buffalo

Answer. C. The XF-84H was modified from an F-84F "Thunderstreak" jet, in a retrograde sort of way, by instead using a turboprop engine (which was located behind the cockpit, incidentally) and converting the production tail to a T-tail. The original designation was XF-106, later changed to XF-84H. Between 22 July 1955 and 9 October 1956, two XF-84H prototypes made twelve test flights. Eleven of the twelve flights ended in emergency landings. Sounds produced by the aircraft's turboprop engine--actually, it was the propeller--caused nausea and headaches among ground crews, earning the XF-84H the unofficial nicknames "Thunderscreech" or "Thundershriek" because of the intolerable sound made by the sonic booms from the propeller, which made it basically unusable. The propeller blades went supersonic even while the airplane was running up on the ground. This was definitely the noisiest single-engine aircraft ever to fly. It wasn't just the volume, and it wasn't sound as we think of it, but shock waves, which are typified by a nearly instantaneous pressure increase. A person standing some distance from the airplane was subjected to rapid fire shock waves. These shock waves acted directly on the large intestine, causing spasms that caused individuals in too-close proximity to soil their pants. Hearing protection made no difference.

The Hornet (choice A) was the first production tip-jet powered helicopter. There was basically no engine inside the fuselage other than a small one-horsepower engine to get the rotor up to speed. This was so that the two Hiller 8RJ2B Ramjets, which were mounted at the tips of the rotor blades, could begin to function. Although the two 12.7-pound ramjets only produced 38 pounds of thrust, they were horrifically noisy. And though the aircraft was tiny (empty weight 544 lb) and looked like something out of a 1960s television cartoon (see photo), it was probably the noisiest helicopter ever made. The Ba-349 Natter (choice B) was a disposable, vertically launched rocket-powered attack plane used by a desperate Germany early in 1945, and the Buffalo (choice D) was a pudgy and ineptly designed fighter at the start of WW II.

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