Trivia Testers : A Rule, By Any Other Name

Question: Officially, FAR stands for

  1. Civil Air Regulations
  2. Federal Aeronautical Regulations
  3. Federal Aviation Regulations
  4. Federal Acquisition Regulations

Answer: Number 4. They used to be number 3, but due to an internal conflict between the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the FAA’s use of the FAR acronym, what we used to call the FARs is now formally referred to as Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR). This was actually done over four years ago, in April of 1997. (The CFR catalogs rules adopted by the Federal Government, dividing rules into 50 titles covering all areas subject to Federal regulation.) Title 14 CFR contains rules related to aviation and space. (But it’s gonna be quite a spell before all of us stop sayin’ ‘FARs’.)

Subject: Buying the Farm

Question: Where did the expression ‘buying the farm’ (in reference to fatal accidents) originate? (More than one may apply.)

  1. The term ‘buying the farm’ was around during World War One. When a U.S. soldier was killed in action, his life insurance payoff by Uncle Sam was sent to his next of kin. This was often a sufficient amount to pay off the mortgage on house or farm. (At that time, a great many more people lived on farms.)
  2. In the 1920s, barnstormers would travel the countryside to small cities and set up an ‘airplane ride’ concession from some farmer’s field. The pilot was expected to reimburse the farmer for any crop damage that occurred. When a pilot incurred a fatal accident he was deemed to have bought the entire farm.
  3. When airports were few and far between, municipalities (or individuals with means) could sometimes persuade a farmer to sell a portion of his property to the town in question. A number of incidents occurred where much-wanted real estate would not be sold by a farmer at any cost. Since at that time, accidents were much more frequent, there came to be an association between the acquisition of some hard-won airport properties and the ultimate forfeiture of flying privileges from a fatal accident.
  4. the same place that ‘kick the bucket’ did: vaudeville.

Answers: Number 1 and number 2.

Subject: Topsy-turvy

Question: True or false: It is possible for cloud bases to be above the cloud tops.

Answer: True! Cloud bases are reported from airports as a height above ground level (AGL). Cloud tops on the other hand are reported as a height above mean sea level (MSL). For an airport like Furnace Creek, in Death Valley CA (‘minus 210’ on the sectional — assuming they ever have clouds, of course) if there were dense low clouds at 100 AGL that were just 100 feet thick, tops might be PIREP-ed at ‘sea level’, ostensibly 100 feet below their own base! Incidentally there aren’t many ‘below sea level’ airports. Amsterdam’s Schiophol is a few feet below sea level. The lowest of the low however is over by the Dead Sea. The elevation there at Metzada Airport (identifier LLMZ, and it’s actually pronounced ‘msada’) is 1,266 feet below sea level. Since ceilings and tops are reported over there the same way they’re reported here, it would be theoretically possible (although there are no weather reporting facilities there).