Trivia Testers : Hot and Short

Question: Out of all the public use runways in the US, if you also factored in the density altitude, using a normal standard atmospheric lapse rate, where would the ‘effectively shortest’ runway be located?

  1. Telluride Regional Airport, in Telluride Colorado (TEX), has one runway (09-27) that is 6870 feet long. Its 9,078 foot altitude however (even on a cool ‘standard temperature’ day of about 26.5 deg F) would seem to be almost three times shorter (for a normally-aspirated airplane) at about 2300 feet!
  2. The Lake County Airport at infamous Leadville Colorado (LXV), at 9927 feet, is the highest public use airport in the US. Its one 6400-foot runway 16-34 — it also has a 100 x 150 helipad — is, due to its altitude (which even on a ‘standard day’ might be a chilly 23.6 degrees F) would seem to your Skyhawk to be only 1900 feet long! That’s well under one-third of its actual length, and that would be on a ‘good’ day!
  3. Colorado, yes, but not Leadville: Runway 03-21 at McElroy Airfield (elevation over 7400 feet MSL) in Kremmling, CO, is just 1100 feet long. Although its other runway (09-27) is 5540 feet long, even with a standard temperature for that altitude (which is just above freezing, at about 32.5 degrees F) runway 03-21 would, to a normally aspirated airplane, feel like it was only 469 feet long.
  4. Erstwhile Field, 1500 feet from the summit of Pike’s Peak, is the world’s most treacherous airport. Only turbocharged STOL aircraft or turbine helicopters are allowed to use its 1900-foot runway, which in even the cool thin air (about 20 F deg below freezing, on a standard day at that altitude) would seem over six times shorter, at 290 feet! The runway perimeter fence is made of aluminum. (Guess where they get it?)

Answer: Choice D, although extrapolative fiction, would be true in principle. (But there isn’t really an airport up there.) Out of all of the approximately 5269 public use airports in the AOPA database, Leadville Colorado is the highest. But it is Kremmling, choice C, that takes the cake. There are also 13,964 private airports, for which we do not have length and elevation data, and some of these may very well be higher (or certainly shorter), and thus even worse!

Subject: The Last Flight of the Spirit of Saint Louis

Question: When did Lindbergh’s famous airplane fly for the last time?

  1. Never. It’s always flying (though in a hover) at the National Air and Space Museum in the nation’s capital, as well as in our collective memory.
  2. Twang those heart strings, Clarence, but no cigar. The real last time was made by Lindbergh himself, in 1954, the same year he won a Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography having the title of that famous airplane, during a book tour. He strongly protested the idea, but acceded to his publicist, albeit with a great deal of reluctance.
  3. On April 30, 1928, about three weeks shy of a year after having landed in Paris on his historic flight, Charles Lindbergh landed the plane at Bolling Field, then located on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington DC, where it was dismantled and taken to the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building, eleven days later.
  4. It was last ‘flown’ by actor James Stewart (the late movie pilot Frank Tallman, actually) in 1957 for the making of the movie of the same name.

Answer: C. The airplane was flown for the last time on April 30, 1928, after having accumulated a total of only 489 hours of flight. It was first put on display in the Arts and Industries Museum on May 13, 1928. It took its present place in the then-new Air and Space Museum’s ‘Milestones of Flight’ gallery in 1976.

Subject: I’ll Huff, And I’ll Puff

Question: Prior to 9/11, how much impact resistance were flight deck doors required to have?

  1. resistance to a full running charge by a 350-pound man
  2. two blows of approximately 220 foot-pounds of impact force at door, bolt, and hinge points
  3. 500 pounds of pushing or pulling force on the panel, or a shear force of 300 pounds at the hinge line
  4. A fourth dan jump side-kick aimed at the door lock’s deadbolt

Answer: B. The ability to resist door, bolt, and hinge impact forces of 300 Joules or 221.3 foot-pounds of force, two times, or a 250-pound pull on the handle or door knob for three seconds. (The impact forces are actually simulated by using an approximately 99-lb (45 Kg) weight swung out on a 5.61 foot arc at a horizontal swing distance of 4.48 feet.) These standards are derived from the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standard 0306.00 of May 1976, formulated by the Law Enforcement Standards Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards. They were designed to prevent only incidental or unintentional entrance into the cockpit, and not to thwart the efforts of a ‘determined person.’ (See Advisory Circular 25.795-1, dated 1/10/2002.) These standards are being upgraded.