Do You Know Enough About Aviation To Be A Pilot?

John Miller

Image: andresr/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Since the days of the Wright Brothers, millions of Americans have dreamed of soaring through the clouds in the pilot’s seat of a gleaming plane. Some would love to scream through the wild blue yonder in an F-35 fighter, while others would be perfectly content cruising along in a little Cessna. No matter your bird-like dreams, you’ll first need to understand basic aviation principles and figure out how to control various parts of an airplane. How high do you think you can fly in this inspiring aviation quiz?

Many of the basic principles of flight are relatively intuitive. You know that you’re going to need speed in order to get that 747 off the ground. Do you recall how the aircraft’s motors make this happen? And, of course, the aerodynamics of the contraption matter, too – and every plane is a little different. That means a Concorde jet handles a lot different than an Alaskan bush plane.

You may have failed physics in high school, but if you want to be a pilot, you’ll have to remember exactly how various forces come into play during flight. Lift, drag, thrust, as well as pitch, yaw, and roll are all vital aspects of safe aviation.

Climb aboard for this aviation quiz now! And please remember to buckle up, because our tough questions will create a lot of turbulence.

The curve on top of an airplane wing helps to do what?

The curve that's on top of a plane's wings reduces air pressure at that location. The bottom of the wing, however, is flat … which increases pressure, providing lift.

What's the purpose of an altimeter?

The altimeter is one of a plane's most vital instruments. It measures how high the plane is above sea level. So if the altimeter drops to 0 and you're still cruising at 500 MPH, you have a problem.

Airplanes fly by pushing what toward the ground?

Airplanes are fantastic contraptions. Their primary job is to push air toward the ground. This generates lift … which helps planes fly.

What do the floor pedals in a cockpit control?

The pilot must deal with an entire cockpit worth of controls and buttons. The floor pedals help her control the all-important rudder.

Most airplane wings have what on the upper surface?

Most airplane wings feature a gentle curve on the top surface. This is part of what's called an "airfoil," and it helps the aircraft fly.

What tool do pilots use to control yaw?

Yaw refers to the plane's side to side turning. The rudder is what controls yaw. Unless the rudder is broken, in which case, you'll have to try to remember whether you packed a parachute for this flight.

What happens when the pilot pushes the throttle forward?

The pilot must maintain careful control of the throttle. Pushing forward on the throttle increases engine power; pulling back does the opposite.

What do the ailerons control?

Each wing is fitted with an aileron that moves up or down. When one goes up and the other goes down, the plane goes into a roll.

What happens to air pressure as your altitude climbs?

As planes climb into the skies, air pressure drops dramatically. So too do oxygen levels, which is why planes require pressurized cabins to provide a normal breathing environment.

A supersonic plane can exceed which speed?

Supersonic planes can, by definition, exceed the speed of sound. They can go 760 MPH or even faster.

What part of the plane creates thrust?

Your plane isn't anywhere without some type of engine. Without thrust, there is no lift, and without lift, there is no flight.

What happens if a plane's engines fail?

Modern plane engines don't often fail. But when they do, the planes still work … you just have to glide them to a safe landing area.

What's the name of the control wheel on a plane?

The yoke is the "W"-shaped control wheel of the aircraft. Pilots push, pull and turn the yoke from side to side.

The pilot pushes the top of the rudder pedals to engage what?

The rudder pedals also serve as the brakes. These are the pedals the pilot will be frantically stomping as your out-of-control jet hurtles across the tarmac toward the long-term parking lot.

What element do the elevators control?

The elevators are mounted to the plane's tail section. The pilot moves the elevators up and down to control pitch.

What happens when the pilot pushes forward on the yoke?

The nose is how pilots control pitch. By pushing forward on the yoke, the plane's nose tilts downward. Craterville, here we come!

Big planes experience more of what than little planes?

Thrust gets your plane moving. Drag tries to slow it down. There are several types of drag, but bigger planes always have to overcome more drag than small planes.

What's it called if a plane experiences a rapid decrease in lift?

When a plane suddenly experiences a reduction in lift, you have a problem. This is called a stall, and it has caused many crashes in aviation history.

What happens when you pull back on the yoke?

It's one of the basic fundamentals of takeoffs. Pilots pull back on the yoke, increasing airflow under the wings, thus, generating lift and sending the craft soaring.

You must be at least how old to take a recreational pilot knowledge test?

You only have to be 15 years old to take the recreational pilot knowledge test. If you only want to fly a balloon or glider, you take the exam at just 14.

Most commercial jets fall into which of the following speed categories?

Commercial jets are mostly subsonic, meaning they fly between 350 and 750 MPH. And on those red eye flights, even 750 MPH never seems fast enough.

What's the spinning air behind a plane called?

As planes zoom along, the air swirls behind them in a vortex. At airfields, pilots must be wary of the vortices caused by planes in front of them.

If you have a recreational pilot's license, you cannot fly a plane that exceeds what horsepower?

Maybe you should stick to sports cars. If you have a recreational license, you can only fly planes with engines that max out at 180 hp or less.

How many flight hours do you have to log to become an airline transport pilot?

It takes a lot of flight time to qualify for an airline transport pilot's license. Pilots need to log at least 1,500 hours of flight time to qualify.

How difficult is it to fly an airplane?

In the early days of aviation, airplanes were rickety death traps. These days, anyone who applies themselves to coursework can learn to fly a plane.

If you have a sport pilot's license, what is a major restriction on your flight plans?

Sport pilot licenses are very restrictive. You obviously will never have afterburners at your disposal, and you'll never fly at night, either.

Recreational pilots are only allowed​ to fly how many miles from their home airport?

A recreation pilot's license offers very limited range. The laws only allow you to fly up to 50 nautical miles from your home airport.

Which part of a plane generates lift?

Every part of the plane generates lift. But the wings obviously are what create the most lift, and without lift, you're going nowhere.

What's one of the most important modern flight tools?

There are thousands of planes in the skies at any given moment. Without radios, the skies would resemble one big game of high-speed chicken.

If the pilot raises the nose of the plane, he or she is changing what?

By raising (or lowering) the nose of the plane, the pilot adjusts pitch. As you can imagine, pitch is one of the most basic (and important) flight fundamentals.

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