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73 votes
Accepted

How could "aggressor" pilots fly foreign aircraft without speaking the language?

A couple of things come to mind that enable this: you don't become a fighter pilot if you are not intelligent and highly motivated you are not learning a new skill, just doing what you are already ...
Jpe61's user avatar
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56 votes
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What do pilots landing on aircraft carriers do when the ship is not visible due to weather?

My experience is circa 1990s, but I can offer some perspective on US fixed wing operations. Besides TACAN and ASR for non-precision approaches, there are (were) 3 precision instrument approach options ...
Michael Hall's user avatar
  • 26.1k
51 votes
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What is the purpose of the Dash 8’s “TOUCHED RUNWAY” warning light?

The light is a tail-strike indicator. Touched Runway system The Touched Runway system provides a warning light in the flight compartment. It illuminates when the aft fuselage ...
Transistor's user avatar
  • 1,246
50 votes
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What is this object in the cockpit of an ultralight?

It's an airspeed indicator for ultralights. The pitot inlet is at the bottom and the pitot air pushes a little red plastic disc up and down on a central rod, with a calibrated clearance between the ...
John K's user avatar
  • 131k
48 votes
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Why do digital flight instruments seem to fluctuate/flicker during landing or takeoff?

In short: The reason you see this is two-fold: Usual CRT flicker by principle, CRT frames are not displayed in their entirety at any time, but this is not visible to the naked eye, due to the ...
mins's user avatar
  • 73.5k
45 votes

How could "aggressor" pilots fly foreign aircraft without speaking the language?

You don't need to speak(1) fluent(2) Russian(3): In fact you don't need to speak at all, just understand. You don't need to be fluent, just understand enough to not crash the plane. It's not about ...
Jörg W Mittag's user avatar
40 votes
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How does the head-up display on a spitfire work?

It's not a head-up display, it's a reflector gunsight. (Follow that link to learn how they work.) It just displays a fixed reticle to aim the cannon, not any flight instrumentation. Some (but not all)...
Dan Hulme's user avatar
  • 12.7k
39 votes

Why are cockpit instruments white on black dials?

For night flying the white on black scheme emits probably 1 or 2% of the light that a black on white display does. This will make a very significant difference in cockpit light levels and night vision....
Transistor's user avatar
  • 1,246
39 votes

Low visibility spins and spirals: difficult-to-understand explanation of false perception

Your vestibular system can only recognize acceleration. Your brain combines that with visual inputs to produce spatial orientation. (If the two disagree, you may get motion sickness.) When you are in ...
StephenS's user avatar
  • 27.7k
38 votes
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What was the first flight instrument ever used in an airplane?

It's the yaw string: The yaw string dates from the earliest days of aviation, and actually was the first flight instrument. Picture: Source
Farhan's user avatar
  • 29.4k
38 votes

What was the first flight instrument ever used in an airplane?

The Wright Flyer, arguably the first controllable aircraft, had three instruments: A stopwatch to measure air time. A crude tachometer to gauge engine speed And an anemometer, to make an estimate ...
tj1000's user avatar
  • 8,777
36 votes

How did planes measure their speed relative to the ground before GPS?

The other answers seem to make a simple thing way too complicated. Yes there are DMEs or TACANs, that are sometimes used to get a ground speed, but it's only accurate if you're tracking exactly to or ...
falstro's user avatar
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36 votes
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Why do airplane indicators start at 12 (o'clock), unlike cars that start at 7?

Most old-style indicators (RPM, cyl. head temperature, outside air temperature, oil pressure, etc.) are geared in such a way as to present their full operating range over a needle swing of 270 degrees....
niels nielsen's user avatar
35 votes

Why are the colors of the MiG-15's attitude indicator inverted?

That attitude gyro reacts in the opposite manner to pitch movement (pitch down = horizon line rolls DOWN) compared to the "conventional" manner (pitch down, horizon line rolls UP). This is ...
niels nielsen's user avatar
34 votes

What should I follow, if two altimeters show different altitudes?

The G5 is not certified as a primary altimeter- its information is advisory only. From a legal standpoint, your primary altimeter is always the certified one- in your case, the steam gauge one.
Chris's user avatar
  • 15.6k
33 votes

Is it normal for gliders not to have attitude indicators?

Yes, it is normal. With very rare exceptions, gliders are not allowed to operate in IMC (instrument Meteorological Conditions) and must remain clear of clouds. There are also powered aircraft that do ...
Juan Jimenez's user avatar
  • 12.9k
32 votes
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How is a confusion possible between Western and Russian Attitude Indicators?

It's so easy to sit in our comfy lounge chairs and wonder how on Earth pilots get things wrong. The error didn't happen without context. It was dark. There was little to no external visual reference ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 14.3k
32 votes
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Identification of this control panel for a four-engine plane

This is almost definitely the cockpit of a Short Stirling of unknown mark, a 4-engine British heavy bomber from World War II. The RAF Museum's website has an (admittedly low-resolution) photo that ...
egid's user avatar
  • 23.3k
32 votes

Why do aircraft stall warning systems use angle-of-attack vanes rather than detecting airflow separation directly?

The short answer is that we want to warn the pilots about an impending stall well prior to an actual stall condition. From a safety perspective, waiting until the airflow starts to separate, or at ...
peekay's user avatar
  • 581
31 votes
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What is this INOP instrument and when is it safe to fly with INOP instruments?

It is a standby display, specifically a DDRMI (Digital Distance Radio Magnetic Indicator). The aircraft can be dispatched with inoperative equipment. The process is controlled by a Minimum ...
Gerry's user avatar
  • 19.8k
30 votes
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Why is the ball no longer centred in a multi-engine airplane with inoperable engine?

Asymmetric thrust means now you have more thrust on one side than the other. A yawing moment results. You want to balance this yawing moment in order to still fly straight. This means the airplane ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
29 votes

How can pilots lacking instruments interpret vectors given by ATC?

14 CFR Part 25 describes the requirements for an airliner like the 737 to be certified by the FAA. §25.1303 Flight and navigation instruments. (a) The following flight and navigation instruments ...
fooot's user avatar
  • 73.2k
29 votes

What is that missing instrument on a Beechcraft 1900C?

Originally there was no instrument at this place, except for UE series with an electrically driven artificial horizon, where there was a fast erect pushbutton/indicator for the copilot gyro. ...
mins's user avatar
  • 73.5k
29 votes

What do the green, white and yellow bands mean on an airspeed indicator?

The FAA has a nice introduction document on flight instruments, which explains all the standard markings on a typical airspeed indicator (ASI): As shown in [the figure above], ASIs on single-engine ...
Bianfable's user avatar
  • 55.9k
29 votes

Low visibility spins and spirals: difficult-to-understand explanation of false perception

To enlarge slightly upon StephenS's answer, if the banked turn is properly coordinated, then the pilot feels only the G-force of the turn and no shear force in his or her seat, and concludes that (s)...
niels nielsen's user avatar
28 votes
Accepted

How do aircraft on the deck of a moving aircraft carrier align their INS/IRS?

The aircraft carrier has its own inertial navigation system, (SINS - Ship's Inertial Navigation System) and this information is transmitted to each individual aircraft INS by either cable or datalink. ...
Michael Hall's user avatar
  • 26.1k
28 votes
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What is this instrument for on the 747 flight engineer's panel?

It's for measuring the airplane's inclination on the ground for the longitudinal axis. There will be another one on a lateral bulkhead for measuring lateral inclination. When doing fuel quantity ...
John K's user avatar
  • 131k
27 votes

Why was the WWII RAF fighter joy stick loop design not used widely?

A control stick with a loop at the top was called a "Spade Stick". Generally only Hurricanes and Spitfires had them. The cockpits on these aircraft were small and it was a problem for the control ...
Mike Sowsun's user avatar
  • 37.8k

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