Airplanes and Human Factors

Sorry for these delayed postings but I’m afraid this is going to be a frequent occurrence as I’m busy studying for the weekly quizzes for class. The chapters are huge and divided into three sections. Mr. Whipple asks us only 10 questions on the quiz, but since the chapters are large, we have to study them thoroughly. On Monday, November 14, 2011 I had my second class in Ground School. I arrived early and quickly went over the information we covered in the first class as we were going to be quizzed on this i.e. Discovering Aviation and Introduction to Human Factors. I was the first to arrive and I was able to quickly review the test material. Ten minutes later, another student arrived and after we greeted one another, he too began reviewing. At about 5.35 pm, Mr. Whipple arrived with his laptop bag hanging on his left shoulder and holding a medium-sized McCafe Coffee in his right hand. “Am I late? I’m not am I?” He then proceeded to put his coffee and laptop on the table and looked at his watch. “Oh good, I’m in time!” He said smilingly. I couldn’t study anymore because I had already studied so much, and then Mr. Whipple was quite chatty too. “I’ll make some coffee for us all. Let’s see now where are the cookies?”

A few more students arrived and Mr. Whipple began talking generally and asked if we wanted to have a class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. Some students said they were not in favour of that, whilst some said they were okay and a few others said they were indifferent. “Well let’s see if any of you will change your mind next week when we’re a little closer to the holiday”, Mr. Whipple said. It was 6.00 pm now and Mr. Whipple began distributing the test, and since I’m usually seated in the front row, I received the questions first and immediately began my test. There were indeed 10 questions, multiple choice and the choice was out of 3 available answers. I think within 1 or 2 minutes, literally, I was finished. Either I had studied really well, or the questions were simply too easy, or so I thought. I could hear the pens/pencils of students hitting the tables as they were finished too. Mr. Whipples said, “Okay we’ll correct these right now, I’ll read out the answers and then record your individual results and you can keep the answers”. By the time we were finished, I realised that I wasn’t the only one to have gotten 9 out of 10 😀 and there were only two people who had gotten 10 out of 10. Then we discussed the question most of us had gotten wrong and Mr. Whipple said, “Ok get yourselves some coffee/cookies and stretch your legs a bit because this is yet another large chapter”.

I was eager to find out what we would be learning today. Mr. Whipple had told us to review the chapter to be covered in class before hand, but for me, most of the time is taken up studying for the test, and there isn’t really much time in between classes either. Today the we covered the different types of aircraft categories and class, what one needs to do to become a private pilot, and the human factors. Human factors include such things as, Aeronautical Decision Making, Pilot in Command responsibilities, Communications, Aviation Physiology i.e. things such as pressure effects, motion sickness, stress, fatigue etc. Anyway, I won’t bother you with the details, nor with what else was covered, but I think you might be getting an idea as to what we covered in the first chapter.

At about 7.45 pm, Mr. Whipple said, let’s go down to the hangar and I’ll show you some of the planes. Our class is located immediately upstairs inside the hangar. So as soon as we step outside the classroom, we’re in the hangar and we have to go down a flight of stairs to reach the planes. Interestingly there was a Cessna 177 Cardinal that had its’ cowling removed and was being fixed. Mr. Whipple began showing us the engine or the power plant as the text book calls it. “Now here’s the engine, these are the cylinders and the principle the engine works on is the same as your car engine. Its a four-stroke engine and you’ll learn about what that means in the next chapter”. He then proceeded to explain how the engine worked. “Here’s the oil dip stick to check the oil, the propeller etc.” This was an older Cessna plane, but the basics of the engines’ workings haven’t really changed that much, said Mr. Whipple. Then we moved on to another plane where Mr. Whipple began showing us the fuselage, the empennage, the rudder, ailerons etc. and also showed us a sample of fuel which he took from underneath the planes’ wing. He then said, notice the colour, because each grade has a different colour and you should have the correct grade fuel in your plane. “Smell it and it should smell like Kerosene oil, although it isn’t”, “But you should know how it smells in case there’s a problem when you’re flying. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and poisoness gas, so you won’t know if it’s leaking, but one way to know for sure it’s present is when you begin smelling the Kerosene oil”. After the fuel sampler had been passed around, it finally returned to Mr. Whipple who then raised the sampler against the light and said, “You should check for any contaminants in the fuel, such as debris or water, and if you notice any of these, you should not fly”. He then added some water from his water bottle to the fuel sampler, and the water immediately settled below the fuel, creating a clear boundary between the two liquids. We moved on to some other planes to see what they were like and Mr. Whipple reminisced about his younger days when he flew and how things are so very much different now.

Mr. Whipple looked at his watch and it was 8.15 pm and it was time to return upstairs to class to finish off the chapter by 9.00 pm. Below you can see the Old Cessna 177 Cardinal engine that we saw.



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