The Bootstrap Approach to Aircraft Performance
(Part Three — Maneuvering)

Okay, bootstrappers ... time to cut loose and have some fun! In the first two bootstrap articles by aviation physicist John T. Lowry Part One on basics for fixed-pitch aircraft, Part Two on constant-speed-prop aircraft the airplane was kept at full throttle, or perhaps gliding, and always wings level. But eagles don't soar wings-level. (Then again, neither do buzzards.) This article takes the airplane, still at full throttle, and lets it bank and turn. Since bootstrap calculations are easy and realistic, we'll be able to calculate interesting turn performance numbers and bring up some new concepts. To do that, two downloadable Excel spreadsheets are included: banks.xls, on geometric aspects of level turns, and bootstp3.xls, details on maneuvering a fixed-pitch airplane. More

The Bootstrap Approach to Aircraft Performance
(Part Two — Constant-Speed Propeller Airplanes)

Calculating performance numbers for an airplane equipped with a constant-speed propeller requires a different bootstrap model than was used with fixed-pitch props. In this promised follow-up to his earlier article on performance of fixed-pitch propeller aircraft, aviation physicist John T. Lowry offers a downloadable spreadsheet plus some guidance on how to use it to calculate key V-speeds and performance numbers at any given combination of loading and atmospheric conditions. More

Stalls and Dr. B. »

You probably think you understand what makes a wing stall, don't you? Well, think again. Can you explain why the wing seems to lose all its lift suddenly, even though a graph of lift vs. angle of attack would seem to suggest it shouldn't? Or why the sudden stall you experience in a real airplane doesn't happen to a wing mounted in a wind tunnel? AVweb's Roger Long explains these phenomena and more, exploring such facets as airflow separation, wing camber, boundary layer, laminar flow, coefficient of lift, and wingtip dynamics. The graphics that illustrate Roger's article (including several animations) are alone worth the price of admission. More

The Bootstrap Approach to Aircraft Performance
(Part One — Fixed-Pitch Propeller Airplanes)

You say your airplane's POH doesn't have some performance numbers you need? Or, because of airframe or powerplant modifications, your factory-original POH performance section is out of date? Or perhaps you need numbers for your one-of-a-kind homebuilt? Don't despair ... and don't guess! Now there's an easy way to calculate accurate light aircraft V-speeds, rates and angles of climb, thrust, drag, and much more. Aviation physicist and private pilot John T. Lowry shows you how. (This first installment deals strictly with simple fixed-pitch-prop airplanes; a follow-up article deals with constant-speed props and other complications.) More

And They Called the Wind ... Wind »

A gentle breeze rippling across a lake can help a seaplane pilot take off sooner but a stiff crosswind can give a student pilot fits or help groundloop a taildragger. No matter what you fly or when you fly it, one thing that always must be considered is wind. Not only does the wind's speed and direction help determine which runway to use, but it can also decide whether your next trip is non-stop, or if it's even possible. AVweb's Linda Pendleton takes on the wind and explains some of the basic and not-so-basic facts all pilots should consider. More

Lift Doesn't Suck »

Why does an airplane wing produce lift? It's neither wing curvature nor the difference in path length of air passing over and under the airfoil. And despite what you may have been taught, it has much less to do with Bernoulli and suction than it does Newton and circulation. With the help of some vivid word-pictures that involve mashed potatoes, dust motes, ocean waves, cranes, screen door closers and suction cups plus some animated graphics Roger Long demystifies lift, and even explains such arcane notions as ground effect and the boundary layer. More

NASA's Vomit Comet: Hitchin' a Ride on a Buckin' KC-135 »

Some AVweb staffers get all the cushy assignments. And then there's the "Vomit Comet," the unfortunate nickname bestowed upon the KC-135A used by NASA to conduct zero-gravity testing and experiments. As if we don't give him enough to do, News Editor Peter Yost wangled a ride on this bucking bronco, risking life, limb and lunch to report on one of the wildest rides around. Take it from us this is NOT your father's 707! More

Coping with Single-Pilot IFR »

One of the toughest challenges we general aviation pilots face is flying single-pilot IFR. It's so tough, in fact, that the airlines and commuters don't even attempt it. But according to AVweb editor and SPIFR-maven Mike Busch, modern technology and tight cockpit discipline can go a long way to compensate for not having a copilot. Mike reviews the most common screwups that pilots make when flying SPIFR, and offers some concrete suggestions for avoiding them. More

Yipes! No Green Light!!! »

A gear-up landing is no big deal...unless you turn it into one. Unfortunately, pilots often do exactly that, sometimes with truly tragic results. If you fly retractable gear aircraft, you're bound to face this situation sooner or later. Here's a commonsense guide. More

Landing in Japan »

Former World War II fighter ace and USAF test pilot Clay Tice died on July 15. He was 79. Clay was an active participant on CompuServe's AVSIG (aviation) Forum for quite some time before a tragic stroke stole the keyboard from him. Clay's stories of his experiences as both a fighter pilot and test pilot provided both entertainment and history lessons to all who read them. Here is Clay's account of his historic landing in Japan at the end of WW II, starting with the official report he submitted way back then and then continuing with his personal recollections of the event. More