Trivia Testers : From the ‘Official Jocularity’ Department

Question: Where will you hear the call signs ‘Cactus’, ‘Tsunami’, or ‘Cowboy’ on ATC frequencies?

  1. These are call signs used by the military for various training missions.
  2. Nowhere. This is CB lingo, and its use is strongly discouraged by the FAA.
  3. These are the assigned call signs (plus a following tail number) for some of the ‘fighter pilot for a day’ flight schools.
  4. You might if you were in Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, or Austin, Texas. These are the official call signs of three different regional airlines and charters.

Answer: Number 4. They are America West, Pacific Wings, and Austin Express, respectively.

Subject: Markers In the Mists of Time

Question: True or false: We know exactly where the Wright Brothers’ first flight began.

Answer: FALSE
We know approximately where, or course. Kill Devil Hill, one of several sand hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, is like any other sand dune: a few decades go by, and wind and storms take away what was, so that the shifting sands look nothing like they did almost 100 years ago. In 1928 WIlliam Tate, the gentleman with whom Wilbur Wright stayed when he first visited Kitty Hawk, and three of the several men who had witnessed the historic flight (and were still living) got together to try and figure out exactly where that was, so that a monument could be built. Based on the remains of a storage building where the Wright Flyer had been kept, and their collective memories that the 60-foot track used to launch it had been about 100 feet North of that building, they marked that spot—a quarter century later—with a copper pipe. (This was soon replaced with a six-foot stone and bronze tablet.)

Subject: Rainbows

Question: Rainbows are the occasional wonder when the sun pops back out again just after a rain. We usually see just one bow, but somewhat more rarely, it is possible to see

  1. trick question. only one at a time…
  2. two; the second ‘supernumary’ bow being outside the first
  3. three
  4. four

Answer: theoretically, number 4. Practically speaking, number 2. Rainbows are formed by the refraction of light inside water droplets, and are found at precise angles. The primary bow forms about 23 degrees from the antisolar point, which is the point in the sky or on the ground which is exactly opposite from the sun (as seen by the observer). The scondary bow is much fainter, and is at 35 degrees from the antisolar point. The third order bow is much fainter still, and you would have to be inside the scattering cloud to see it, because its location is 120 degrees from the antisolar point. The fourth order bow is too faint for the human eye to see but would be at 160 degrees.