Trivia Testers: Did You Know…

A first installment of Jeff Pardo’s trivia testers. Remember: What your friends don’t know only makes you look smarter.

Subject: Turn and Burn

The SR-71 was (is) typically flown at Mach 3.0 or 3.15, although in reality the engines are quite capable of much greater speeds.Why isn’t it flown any faster than this?

  1. The need for refueling becomes too prohibitively frequent.
  2. The speed restriction in the FARs for flight above FL600.
  3. It would melt.
  4. While it wouldn’t enter orbit, it would enter a parabolic arc high enough where control surfaces are no longer effective, and attitude could not longer remain controlled.

The answer is: 3; temperature. It could be flown faster, but not for long. Although above 99% of the earth’s atmosphere, frictional heating is still so great that before too long, critical surfaces of the mostly titanium skin would begin to soften and start coming apart.

Subject: The ‘other’ Wright Brothers

Most people (even most pilots) don’t know this one. In addition to Orville and Wilbur Wright, there were actually two other Wright Brothers near the turn of the century who were, in a way, connected with aviation’s infancy. Who were these men?

  1. William and Robert Wright, the landlords of the building in which Orville and Wilbur had their bicycle shop. (They were stepbrothers, incidentally.) They were not related to ‘The’ Wright brothers.
  2. Jedediah and Mordecai Wright, also brothers (although they were twins), purchased the printing business that Orville and Wilbur sold prior to their initial investment in the new and then-booming bicycle business in 1893.
  3. Milton Wright and his wife Susan actually had two sons before the birth of Orville and Wilbur. Reuchlin was 6, and younger brother Lorin was 4 when the ‘elder’ of the famous duo, Wilbur, was born in April of 1867.
  4. In 1899, Wilbur wrote a letter to the Smithsonian Institution inquiring about aeronautical research. Coincidentally, it was answered by a man whose last name also was Wright. He, too had a younger brother, however his name was Orrin, not Orville.

The answer is 3. (I couldn’t have made up a name like Reuchlin if I’d thought about it all day.)

Subject: Helicopters. . .

What is the average amount of open area commonly recognized as “necessary” when new students are learning to hover a helicopter?

  1. Generally, with the instructor poised to take the controls if (when) necessary, a square open space of between a half-acre to one acre is usually enough.
  2. It depends on the type of helicopter, and there is no fixed size. Smaller piston helicopters such as the Robinson R-22 are much more dynamically unstable than some larger turbine helicopters, such as a Bell 407. As a result, the area given in choice (1) usually becomes somewhat smaller, using larger machines.
  3. New Mexico.
  4. At least four acres, to be absolutely safe, given varying instructor response times.

It’s 2. Choice 4 isn’t at all unwise, either.