57 votes
Accepted

Why does camouflage make some planes fly slower?

Same reason gliders keep their wings waxed. It wasn't the camo per se, it was the dull matte field-applied paint finish that included all sorts of imperfections, and to a small degree, the weight of ...
user avatar
  • 103k
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 ...
user avatar
  • 11.5k
30 votes

How does it feel like to be outside a flying airplane?

It won't be pleasant. The main result of being exposed outside at altitude, besides the obvious hypothermia, frostbite and hypoxia, will be bruising from the 280-ish knot slipstream (it's the ...
user avatar
  • 103k
27 votes
Accepted

How much leverage do commerial pilots have on cruise speed?

There is something called the "Cost Index" - it is basically how you choose between speed and fuel economy. Company dispatchers, after knowing that a flight has been delayed, will calculate this value,...
user avatar
  • 39.1k
24 votes
Accepted

Why don't small aircraft produce tyre smoke when landing, but big aircraft do?

It is not only the speed, but the combination of several effects: Landing speed: The much higher wing loading of airliners, even at the end of their trip, results in touchdown speeds in the area of ...
user avatar
23 votes

What is wrong with a high-speed landing for an ultralight or GA aircraft?

Keeping too much speed in an approach in any airplane can be risky depending on how much runway you have as it all has to bleed off before you can stop. It's a great way to end up in a hedge. Extra ...
user avatar
  • 49.1k
22 votes

Why does the speed of commercial airliners fluctuate, sometimes as high as 1,060 km/h or as low as 800 km/h?

There are three different speeds that are of relevance here: Groundspeed- This is probably the speed indicated to the passenger. For them, this is the most relevant as it determines the time taken ...
user avatar
  • 98.3k
21 votes
Accepted

What could cause an irregular climbing pattern on takeoff?

The brief period of leveling off is not unique to the flight on that day. Looking at track logs for previous days, it always levels off at around 7,000 feet for some period. As Terry commented, this ...
user avatar
  • 69.7k
21 votes
Accepted

How is the actual ground speed of an airliner measured?

There are generally two ways of determining the ground speed from within the aircraft. The first is by using an inertial navigation system. This consists of a number of accelerometers and gyroscopes ...
user avatar
  • 74.2k
21 votes

How does it feel like to be outside a flying airplane?

This is from Irish Luck - Surviving Partial Ejection from A-6 Aircraft. In this incident, the bombardier/navigator's ejection seat came part way out of an A-6, leaving the head and upper body exposed. ...
user avatar
  • 2,839
19 votes
Accepted

Why is tailwind during final approach and landing so dangerous?

It's not so much a matter of "pilots typically get very uncomfortable" as it is "pilots recognize that it is an inherently less safe situation", and pilots (at least the ones you want to fly with) ...
user avatar
  • 67.2k
19 votes
Accepted

Why do we need to know both groundspeed and airspeed?

Airspeed is critical for pilots, because it is what the airplane "feels" when it's flying. Too little airspeed and the wings won't generate enough lift to fly, too much and the plane can be damaged. (...
user avatar
19 votes

Why does camouflage make some planes fly slower?

It's primarily all about matte vs glossy finish. Normally a camo paint scheme would not be finished in a glossy finish as this might flash in the sunlight. A matte finish is rougher and thus has ...
user avatar
  • 17.1k
17 votes

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

There's one method that has been successfully used since long-distance flights became available - you took out your map, and tried to match it to features under your plane. This allowed you to correct ...
user avatar
  • 271
17 votes

What ground speed reference is used for anti skid control?

On the Airbus A320, the ADIRU (Air Data Inertial Reference Unit) data is used for the reference speed of the anti-skid system: The system compares the speed of each main gear wheel (given by a ...
user avatar
  • 43.9k
16 votes
Accepted

What is wrong with a high-speed landing for an ultralight or GA aircraft?

You can, in theory, fly a faster landing speed than the default Vref of 1.3*Vso. But it’s wasteful in the round out and potentially very dangerous on short field landings. When an airplane lands, ...
user avatar
15 votes

Why did the Flightaware groundspeed readout suddenly spike for this flight?

Looking into one set of data from the the popular Flightradar24 service it is not visible. I think I found the data you're looking at. Since the heading also suddenly changed to (exactly) 360, I'm ...
user avatar
14 votes

What ground speed reference is used for anti skid control?

The answers would be incomplete without mentioning the 'original' ABS. It was used very widely on civil and military aircraft alike throughout the world until at least the 1970s. The system employed a ...
user avatar
  • 8,565
13 votes
Accepted

How do pilots manage the speed during the approach?

The Boeing chart you reference appears to use for the approach speed column the Vref speed of the aircraft at its max landing weight in the landing configuration. This is the speed you want to be at ...
user avatar
  • 38.7k
12 votes

What could cause an irregular climbing pattern on takeoff?

Looks like an intermediate altitude assignment from atc. A look at the standard instrument departure plates (SID's) for Stansted shows that the final altitude on some of the procedures is 6000 ft. ...
user avatar
  • 27.5k
12 votes

How does it feel like to be outside a flying airplane?

A skydiver in free fall is fully supported (i.e. no longer accelerating, but falling at constant velocity) at about the same speed as your example motorcycle. Wind resistance is generally proportional ...
user avatar
  • 14.3k
11 votes

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

According to a story I read about the SR71, planes used to be able to ask ATC for a "ground speed check", i.e. ask "What's my speed on the ground?" ATC would measure it using their ...
user avatar
  • 3,064
11 votes

Why is tailwind during final approach and landing so dangerous?

The primary concern is the increased landing distance due to the increased ground speed. Landing & stopping distances increase more-than-linerally with each knot increase in ground speed. Given ...
user avatar
  • 980
10 votes

How do head- and tailwinds affect airspeed?

I'm wondering how to calculate the actual speed based on that. Which actual speed? All of the speeds you mentioned are actual speeds. None of them is in any way artificial, virtual, or otherwise ...
user avatar
10 votes

How do head- and tailwinds affect airspeed?

How do head- and tailwinds affect airspeed? They don't. Airspeed is the aircraft's speed relative to the air it's travelling through. The aircraft doesn't care whether that air is moving relative to ...
user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

What special tyres (tires) are needed for high altitude takeoff and landing?

The higher takeoff speeds might exceed the speed rating of the usual tires. As a tire is rolling it deforms in two directions. As each section comes in contact with the runway it is pressed inward ...
user avatar
  • 27.5k
9 votes

How to calculate the real Ground Speed from True Air Speed?

First calculate horizontal component of airspeed, then add the wind: $$v_{GS} = cos(\theta) * v_{TAS} + v_{wind}$$ with $\theta$ being the angle between the horizon and the path of the aircraft in ...
user avatar
  • 2,990
9 votes
Accepted

Calculating Ground Speed - E6B vs Pythagorean Theorem

Course and heading are not the same. Course is the direction of your path over the ground. Heading is the direction you are pointed (and the direction you would travel through a still airmass). In ...
user avatar
  • 5,157

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible