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Question 16

What is the combat radius of the Gripen, how long can it stay on combat air patrol, and how does this compare to the other figters of today?

      The combat radius of the Gripen is approximately 370 - 497 miles. Here some combat radiuses of other aircraft well know and used today:

Eurofighter 2000 => 288 - 345 miles
F-15C Eagle => 1,222 miles (intercept mission)
Su-27 Flanker => 932 miles (intercept hi-hi-hi mission)
Rafale => 679 miles (penetration)
F-14D Tomcat => 1,239 miles (Combat Air Patrol)
F-16A Falcon => 340 miles (hi-lo-hi mission)

      As shown by the chart, the Gripen is comparable to many of its friends and foes in terms of combat radius. Besides for the penetration and intercept aircraft which are designed for large combat radiuses, the Gripen could surely keep up with these other aircraft for a good while. It is hard to say what the time limit for the combat air patrol would be for any aircraft, especially the Gripen. There aren't many places on the new which disclose this information.

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Question 17

I am doing a project on the helicopter AH-1 Cobra. I need some help in locating some information. Can you please help me?

      I would try looking at our AH-1 Cobra page first off, it provides you with photographs and basic information on the aircraft (GAC AH-1 Cobra Page). If you can't find what you need with the page we provide or need background information, I would suggest using the resources that Global Aircraft uses for its pages.

Federation of American Scientists -- AH-1 Page

US Navy - AH-1W Super Cobra Page

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Question 18

What is the U.S 's most sophisticated plane we have and why?

      Determining "the most" anything is a touchy process. Groups of aircraft are divided according to their abilities in combat and the technologies put into their development and workmanship. For instance, the most advanced bomber in the US is surely the Northrop B-2 Spirit; while the most advanced air superiority fighter (air dominance fighter) in the US would go to the F-22 Raptor hands down. With the technologies these two aircraft accommodate and employ, they are indubitably the most sophisticated aircraft on the face of this earth in terms of avionics, radar, radar evading, flight controls, etc. When getting down to the crux of the matter for which of these is more advanced, the F-22 or the B-2, it is hard to say. Both utilize some of the most complex radar avoidance technologies ever seen, with the B-2 having a considerably smaller radar cross section than the F-22. The B-2 Spirit can hit targets within inches of the fall-line in any weather, day or night, worldwide - bearing in mind that the B-2 is an intercontinental bomber. The F-22, on the other hand, carries some of the most advanced avionics ever seen. The F-22 Raptor is equipped with the extraordinarily powerful F119-P-100 thrust vectoring turbofans, delivering up to 39,000 lb (155 kN) of thrust each. The avionics in the F-22 are just as remarkable with the low observable, all-weather capability, active aperture AN/APG-77 radar standing as the aircraft's main lifeline. The avionics and software system in the F-22 are the most advanced ever incorporated into an aircraft. The B-2 Spirit and F-22 Raptor are equally marvelous aircraft, having many features in common. It is hard to pinpoint which of these is more advanced than the other -- seeing that one is an worldwide bomber and the other an air dominance fighter. If you ask me, I'd have to go with the F-22 Raptor on personal preference, yet that's just what I believe. You have plenty of evidence to backup whatever you may believe after reading this, its up to you to make the decision.

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Question 19

Why is a Boeing 767 at risk of blowing apart traveling at a speed greater than 414 miles per hour while at altitude of only 1500 feet?

      If what you say is true, my guess (don't quote me on this) would be that the B767's VMAX is reached at this particular speed and altitudinal combination. VMAX is simply the maximum safe speed for a particular altitude for an aircraft. It stands for Velocity (MAXimum). It seems reasonable that the B767, having a cruise speed of 530 mph at 35,000 feet, would not be able to withstand the pressures of 414mph at only 1,500 feet. Each plane has a different VMAX, and the speed at which a plane will VMAX varies with altitude. The B767 can easily withstand the less dense air of 35,000 feet so it can go faster -- yet when you bring it down to only 1,500 feet where the air is denser, the airplane's structure will only be able to take so much before it disintegrates.

      This is excellently proven by the X-15 accident, where the X-15 aircraft (top speed Mach 6.70 / 4,520 mph) entered a spin when re-entering the earth's atmosphere at mach 5. At 18,600ft the aircraft started to dive and oscillate and disintegrated after hitting 15Gs. This happened way back in 1967, but it shows how the aircraft could not withstand the air density and changes from one altitude to another. At around 350,000 feet (nearly space), the X-15 could fly up to 6.7 times the speed of sound, but lower in the earth's atmosphere the plane could never withstand the dense air.

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Question 20

Can you please tell me some of the weaknesses that the F-14B had. Also can you tell me some major contributions of this plane.

      The F-14B was not in itself a weak aircraft. After the tried and failed F-14A engines which were underpowered and stalled a lot, the Navy decided to try out the new F401-P-400 engines. These engines would give the F-14 a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than unity, much improved over the TF30-P-3 engines in the F-14A. However, while the navy planned to start the F-14B with the 67th production edition (and convert F-14As when enough F401s were available), the F401s ran into some unpleasant problems and failed its initial flight rating tests. Because the F-14A's problems had already overran the Navy's cost plans, they decided to stick with the TF-30-P-3 engine powered F-14As and the F-14B program was cut in April 1974.

      Yet, the F-14B test aircraft would be later used to try out the new General Electric F101 DFE engines, and would later lead to the F-14A+ and F-14D variants.

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Question 21

What year were the first commercial airplanes put in service?

      Around 1929, tri-motor planes would fly 10 passengers in the daytime hours. At night they would take a train, and then use the plane again in the day.

      In 1933, Boeing flew its 10 passenger model 247. It could carry its passengers, their luggage, and 400 lb or mail for 485 miles.

      In 1934, Douglas flew its faster and larger DC-2. It could carry 14 passengers and their luggage 1,000 miles.

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Question 22

I am interested in the airspeed of a single prop private plane vs. a commercial airline.

      The average Boeing airliner travels around 500-600mph compared to a few hundred mph in a single engine prop plane. The 707 travels around 600+mph, the 727 around 600mph, 737 travels 530mph, 747 about 565mph, and 767 up to 530mph. I am not too sure about the 717, 757, and 777, but they are pretty much the same. Prop planes of course only travel about 100-300mph.

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Question 23

Where can I find all the parts of an aircraft from nose to tail?

      If you are looking for a list of the basic control surfaces of aircraft, your best bet would be to go to Glenn Research Center NASA. They have an excellent educational section for anything you may need dealing with aircraft. The exact link to the 'Parts of Airplane' is

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Question 24

Which commercial airplane has the largest passeneger capacity?

      The Boeing 777 can hold 368 - 550 passengers, depending on the number of classes needed (first class, second. . .). The Boeing 747 can hold 416 - 524 passengers, which is very close to the 777 seating numbers, and also varies by the number of classes. These two hold the highest number of passengers in theory, once again this all depends on the amount of cargo and classes needed.

      For further information, the Boeing 707 held 141 - 189 people, the B717 holds 106 people, the B727 held 148 - 189 people, the B737-900 holds 177 passengers, B757-300 holds 243, and the B767 holds 245 - 375 people. Foreign aircraft include the Tu-154, holding 156 - 180 passengers, the Airbus A330-200 with 240 - 380 people, and finally the A340-600 with 350 to 475 passengers.

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Question 25

What is meant by the term "supercritical wing"?

      "Supercritical Wing" is a term used to describe a generation of wing designs which are flatter on the top, rounder on the bottom, and have a downward curve at the trailing edge. The F-8 SCW (SuperCritical Wing) testing platform was designed to test out this new design. The wing was designed to delay the formation of shock waves over the wing during transonic flight. Delaying shock waves in this region of speed reduces drag and results in increased cruising speed, better fuel efficiency, and a greater overall range than normal wing designs. The F-8 SCW project lasted from 1970 to 1973, with the first flight occurring on March 9, 1971, and the last on May 23, 1973.

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Question 26

What are the roles of the Loadmaster and Radar Intercept Officer?

      The Air Loadmaster's job varies depending on what type of mission is being performed. In SAR (Search And Rescue) helicopter missions, the loadmaster is responsible for troop passengers, under-slung loads, repairing the aircraft (during a mission), and acting as the winch operator. On carrier missions, they mainly supervise parachute/supply dropping, troop carrying, and freight unloading.

      The Radar Intercept Officer, or RIO, is a naval flight officer who sits in the back seat of the F-14 Tomcat. The RIO's job is to guide the pilot with the best speed and course to intercept hostile aircraft. The RIO would likewise operate the complex navigation, sensor, and weapons systems.

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Question 27

Who was the first woman to pilot a plane across the Atlantic Ocean?

      Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. This flight was made in 1932.

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Question 28

Where was the first skywriting exhibition held? In what year did this exhibition of skywriting take place?

      On November 28, 1922, Capt. Cyril Turner of the Royal Air Force gave the first public exhibition of skywriting. He spelled out "Hello USA. Call Vanderbilt 7200" above Times Square in New York.

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Question 29

Who was the first president of the United States to fly in an airplane as president?

      The first president to fly in an airplane while in office was Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1943. The first ex-president to fly in an airplane was Theodore Roosevelt. He flew as a passenger in one of the early Wright biplanes on October 11, 1910.

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Question 30

What does the aviation term cantilever mean?

      The dictionary term to cantilever is "wing with no external brace". In other words, the wings were not being held together by some external wires like World War I aircraft had to have. These external wires would be stress-bearing structures, but full cantilevers have their wings attached directly to the fuselage. The Fokker triplane was the first airplane to enter service with wooden cantilever wings.

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