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Trivia Testers

When you hear the word "flak" you may think of a famous female singer named Roberta, bulletproof outerwear (as in, the jacket), or possibly tough or excessive opposition. Most likely, even as a civilian pilot, you might also think of something that you usually don't have to worry about, namely, someone shooting at you. From whence comes the term?

A Question for Joe Cool
If your single-engine airplane suddenly became a glider shortly after takeoff, what should you do if you were absolutely certain that you had enough altitude to safely turn back to the runway?

  1. The least loss of altitude would occur in a tight 60-degree bank at wings-level best glide speed. (This should be attempted only if you have practiced it many times.)
  2. Forget about hot-dogging it back to the runway! Lower the nose or otherwise attain best glide speed, stay within 45 degrees on either side of your present heading, and take your lumps.
  3. If turn you must, quickly roll into a 45 degree bank (into any crosswind present) and slow down to an airspeed at which the stall horn blares intermittently. Roll out wings level after about 210 degrees, lower the nose to best glide, and land (hopefully, on the runway).
  4. a wingover and a hammerhead stall

A Trip To the Hoosegow
You were driving home after a party and somehow missed a stop sign. The officer pulled you over and gave you a breathalyzer test, and you flunked. (You probably missed that stop sign because you were a sheet or two to the wind.) What should you do now?

  1. If you belong to the AOPA Legal Services Plan, call them.
  2. Be sure to report the conviction in answer to question 21 on your next FAA medical application form. The AME will probably not deny your medical because of this. (However, you can expect a call a few months later from the FAA's Aeromedical Certification Division in Oklahoma City, asking for more details.)
  3. Although it's not widely known, you must also write the FAA's Civil Aviation Security Division (also in Oklahoma City, but at a different address) no more than 60 days after your conviction, and inform them.
  4. All three

Killing But Not Softly
When you hear the word "flak" you may think of a famous female singer named Roberta, bulletproof outerwear (as in, the jacket), or possibly tough or excessive opposition. Most likely, even as a civilian pilot, you might also think of something that you usually don't have to worry about, namely, someone shooting at you. From whence comes the term?

  1. It was a word used to refer to antiaircraft fire of course, but its etymology actually predates the airplane-or anything else that man flew. The term is a shortened and corrupted version of the flacquer, a medieval French throwing weapon.
  2. It came from a contraction of the German word for anti-aircraft fire during World War II.
  3. It was an onomatopoeic term intended to evoke the sound of exploding airborne ordinance, and is believed to have originated in Belgium during the First World War.
  4. The word was actually coined by an American playwright during the 1930s, but it was originally in reference to Prohibition.

The Answers...

A Question for Joe Cool
Answer: Choice C is theoretically correct. Sailplane pilots train for this exact maneuver, in fact. It would be most unwise to try it the first time only if you had to, however. (Most lightly-powered airplanes can do this maneuver in a bit under 500 feet.) This is obviously not recommended. Prior to ever trying this, several practice runs at altitude would be smart. I would also add that you should always be aware of your approximate altitude above ground level. (That's what I meant by being "absolutely certain".) Looking down at your altimeter and seeing 950 feet for example, when your airport is at 550 MSL, would mean that you should forget about flying like you had goggles and a cleft chin, and settle for choice B. Both choices A and D are wrong (very wrong).

A Trip To the Hoosegow
Answer: I'd recommend choice D. Many pilots don't know that the FAA adopted Title 14 CFR Part 61.15 ("Offenses involving alcohol or drugs") back in 1990. At first many people didn't understand how motor vehicle actions were being associated with their flying by the FAA, but they are, and they do. You would write this letter and provide your name, address, date of birth, airman certificate number, type of violation, date of the conviction or administrative action, the state in which it occurred, and a statement detailing what happened and whether or not this action arose from circumstances previously reported. Failure to report (and there is no preprinted official form for this) can mean certificate suspension, denial of an application for a certificate for up to one year, or even certificate revocation.

Killing But Not Softly
Answer: It's choice B. Nicknames for anti-aircraft guns included triple-A for anti-aircraft artillery; ack-ack (from the World War I phonetic alphabet); archie, a WWI British term; and of course flak (from the German fl(ieger)a(bwehr)k(anone), or aircraft-defense gun.

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