AvFacts: Aviation knowledge without limits
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Decalage is not often taught to student pilots, but it’s a critical component of what makes an aircraft fly. Decalage provides an aircraft with angle of attack stability — in other words, it makes an aircraft that is flying, want to stay flying. In this episode, I’ll talk about what decalage is and why it’s what makes an airplane an airplane.
AvFacts #10: Air-to-Air Radar Modes
In this episode I’ll cover the basics of how air-to-air radar works, and some of the different modes that a modern fire control radar (FCR) operates in. I’ll talk about the tradeoffs of each of these modes and how they are used in modern air combat.
AvFacts #9 - Polar Procedures
Flying over the North or South Pole, or even over Northern Canada, presents unique challenges in aviation. In this episode we’ll learn about these challenges: navigation, fuel freezing, diversions, communications, and altimetry. The FAA wants to make sure you don’t get stuck somewhere in sub-freezing weather, and so they require airlines to undergo unique training and procedures when they conduct high latitude operations.
AvFacts #8: Altitudes in Aviation
Surprisingly, pilots actually care about a lot of different altitudes in aviation. There’s the obvious ones: altitude above ground level (AGL) and above mean sea level (MSL), but there’s also some not-so-obvious ones you might not have heard of, such as pressure altitude and density altitude. In this episode we will learn about how these different altitudes are measured and what their significance to pilots and air traffic controllers are.
AvFacts #7: Pursuits, Overshoots, and Reversals
Lead pursuit, pure pursuit, and lag pursuit make up part of the bread and butter of basic fighter maneuvers, or dogfighting. In this episode, learn what these are and how they can lead to overshoots and reversals, which can turn the tables of a dogfight.
AvFacts #6: Engine Failures on Takeoff
An engine failure or fire during the takeoff roll is a critical emergency — the pilot has to make a split-second decision whether to “stop,” and abort the takeoff, or “go,” and take the problem into the air. To ensure the pilot makes the right decision, a whole bunch of planning goes into that stop-or-go decision. On today’s episode we look at all the planning involved in minimizing the hazards of an emergency on the takeoff roll.
AvFacts #5: Gyroscopes
Gyroscopes have been a critical part of instrument flying in aviation. Without them, aircraft would have no safe way to fly in clouds or poor visibility. Today we learn about the three gyroscopic instruments in an airplane’s instrument panel, how they work, and what the future holds for gyroscopes in aviation.
AvFacts #4: Close air support and the 9-line
Close air support is one of the most challenging air-to-ground missions a pilot can perform. Unlike an in-and-out strike mission, CAS missions require the pilot to be over a hostile area for a long period of time, ready to provide air support when needed. The risk of confusion, miscommunication, and friendly fire is also very high. To prevent this, CAS missions are highly procedural, using a standard 9-line briefing. In today’s episode, we will learn about the procedures, risks, and...
AvFacts #3: Cost Index
When airline pilots decide how fast to fly, it all comes down to one number: the cost index. An airliner’s flight management computer (FMC) uses this number in a lot of ways to calculate climb speed, cruise speed, and descent speed. On this episode, we learn how cost index is calculated why airlines fly their planes at the speeds they do.
AvFacts #2: Hydroplaning
On today’s episode we take a look at hydroplaning (sometimes called “aquaplaning”). We learn the three different types of hydroplaning, how they occur, what pilots can do about it, and some other associated hazards.
AvFacts #1: The DLZ
The dynamic launch zone (DLZ) is a launch envelope that helps fighter pilots predict whether their missiles will hit their targets. Learn about the elements of the DLZ and get a glimpse into beyond-visual-range missile tactics in this inaugural episode of AvFacts.