If the principles of flight were learned by studying birds, why
don't airplanes have feathers?
-Gregory in Grand Junction
If there is intelligent life on Earth, how can you ask a question
I'm trying to develop a free flight model that will climb in a left
spiral, roll out at engine shut off with no stall or loss of altitude,
and glide in a right hand circle. I plan to put poly-anhedral in
the wing, dihedral in the tail, and an inverted V rudder. What do
you think that will do for me! -D. Gasser in Dekalb
Dear D Gasser:
I think that will give you an airplane, that if handed to anyone
else, would be launched upside down.
What is an autogyro, and why are they considered dangerous?
-Orson in Oak Park, Illinois
An autogyro is a submarine sandwich picked up at a fast food drive-thru
and eaten in your car. They are dangerous because the belch that
follows a particularly potent autogyro can blow out a windshield.
The Frankel proverse injection valve on my 1.67 cubic inch 1956
Rensenfurt left hand rotation ignition engine sticks above 6000
-Collector in Covington, Kentucky
Really! That's quite unusual on a '56 Rensenfurt. It was the 1958
model that suffered from the chronic Frankel malfarction you describe.
Nevertheless, you can free your Frankel with a 1.5 milliliter squirt
of Halloran's Injecto-Lube, which was available from September 1956
to July 1961 at all Pep Boys Automotive.
Congratulations on your posthumous election to the Model Aviation
Hall of Fame. Imagine my surprise and delight to hear that not only
had you been selected for the Hall, but that you were dead. Congratulations
again and thank you for your first truly significant contribution
-Admirer in Elmira
Thank you. It's very gratifying to be recognized after one's own
Why is tunnel testing of model airplanes so uncommon? Is it because
it's too expensive?
-Perplexed in Peoria
No, tunnel testing is actually quite inexpensive. It's not popular
because it's very dangerous. I once tested a gas free flight in
the Holland Tunnel. It only cost me thirty- five cents to get into
the tunnel, but when I launched the model it hit the
for the Propworn
ceiling almost immediately. Parts fell
down on me and on the passing motorists, and all in all it
was a very unsettling experience. There was also a very strong
and unpleasant smell of automobile fumes. All things considered,
I can't recommend tunnel testing model airplanes.
Hi, it's me, Tommy Smith. My mom is in the hospital because
she had a cold. Well, she's sort of really in the hospital
because I left a bottle of super glue in the medicine cabinet
and she mistook it for nasal spray. Do you know how people
talk funny when they hold their nose? Well, that's how my
mom's been talking for a week now. At least the glue bottle
isn't hanging out of her nose anymore. That only lasted three
days. Does nose hair grow back?
-Your Friend, Tommy Smith
Sounds like your mom could use some Cyn-Off or some Cyn-Aid.
I have been reading a book by Jules Verne in which some people
go exploring in a "bathysphere." What is a bathysphere?
-Laurence in Lawrence, Kansas
A bathysphere is one of those machines that washes your golf
My friends and I have been trying to categorize World War1fighter
aircraft as to type and characteristics. Rotary and non-rotary
are two obvious categories, as are monoplane. biplane, and
multiplane. Another interesting distinction is whether the
aircraft came before or after the introduction of the synchronous
machine gun. We have been having an argument about whether
a fuselage gunner station, a pusher configuration, or a top
wing mounted gun was the most common characteristic of pre-synchronous
airplanes. What would you say was the single most representative
feature of aircraft produced before the invention of the synchronous
-Aviation Buff in Butte. Montana
Allow me to tell you what happened to me at our second annual
fan fly. The weather was gorgeous, the turnout was impressive
and the quality of the aircraft on hand was spectacular. My
Byron F-86, which I had spent hours and hours on was rather
ordinary compared to some of the beautiful ships that were
there. The day started out well enough, with a pancake breakfast,
pilot's meeting and a photo session before the flying
began. By two o'clock I had flown twice and was preparing
for my third flight. Unknown to me, but later described by
an eyewitness a chain of events that would cost me my airplane
was set into motion.
Shug McConnell has a little farm and keeps several cats around
for rodent control. Whenever he drives his pickup out to the
flying field, it's like as not to have a cat or two in the
Well, Shug and his truck were at the fan fly. So was a Mrs.
Hester Cheswick, whose husband Carl was flying in the event.
Hester didn't much care for the noise of the airplanes so
she stayed in the motorhome with her parakeets.
Well the Winnebago's pot must have been out of order because
Hester went looking for a port-a-john. One of Shug's cats
saw this as an opportunity and went in to check out the parakeets.
About this time I was firing up the F-86 prior to takeoff.
As I taxied out, all hell was apparently breaking loose in
the motorhome. just as I broke ground. Aflock of budgies with
a cat in hot pursuit crossed my path.
I know commercial and military jets occasionally have problems
with bird ingestion, but this was ridiculous. I blew so many
feathers out the tailpipe it looked like a Three Stooges pillow
fight. The engine flamed out and my poor F-86 went down in
a heap. What a way to go, and needless to say when she got
out of the can, Mrs. Cheswick was none too pleased either.
Some days it just don't pay to get out of bed!
-Herb in Effingham, Illinois
Bird strikes are a serious threat to all forms of aviation.
An acquaintance of mine worked at the Air Force's Vehicle
Equipment laboratory where windshields were tested for their
resistance to bird impact. This was done by firing supermarket
chickens (whole fryers) out of a compressed air cannon at
instrumented aircraft windshields.
One day, after loading the cannon and setting up a test, the
group broke for lunch. Upon returning they resumed the test,
and shot a very surprised and somewhat annoyed cat through
the windshield of an F-4.
Seems the stray tabby had crawled into the cannon barrel to
sample the chicken. This may sound like an expensive fiasco
and the waste of a good windshield, but the Air Force now
knows, with test data backed up certainty, exactly what will
happen if an F-4 flying at Mach .85 at 30,000 feet hits a
What's an alligator clip?
-Clinton in Cliffside Park
Dear Clinton: His toenails and coupons for Gatorade.