I get a fair amount of email and every now and then someone asks for permission to print parts of the website — no problem — and sometimes they want to know if they can find some of this stuff in printed form. I am trying to get all the good stuff into print, my grand plan here: Book Notes.
The first in the series is Basic Flight: How Eddie Learned the Meaning of it All. This book tells a story, from start to finish, about Eddie's search for "the meaning of it all." Each chapter begins with a part of that story and concludes with the more technical aspects of the flight lesson itself. That means there are three possible audiences:
- If you have only a minor interest in airplanes you could read just the story, I hope, and have a satisfying read.
- If you don't care about the story and just want the facts, procedures, and techniques, you can skip the story and go right to the flight lesson.
- If you really want to understand the flight lesson, I recommend you read the book from start to finish. I think after the narrative you will more easily grasp even the most technical of flight lessons.
Here's a sneak peek of what the flight lesson looks like from the first chapter: Flight Lessons: Mechanics.
So far the response has been very positive. As always, please let me know. (Click "Contact Eddie" below.)
Basic Flight — What's Inside?
Each chapter traces Eddie's progression from Air Force ROTC cadet to Air Force pilot training, and then on to the KC-135A tanker. Even as an engineering student at Purdue, engineering classes became flight lessons.
- Mechanics. Eddie's freshman year at Purdue included the study of mechanics, which is the basis for everything we do in airplanes. Flight lesson topics include velocity, acceleration, gravity, moments, friction, and energy.
- Physics. Eddie's sophomore year includes boot camp and marksmanship but the key lessons are with physics. Flight lessons include Newton's three laws of motion, which are why airplanes fly, but also that of aerodynamic force. Teaser: there is no such thing as "lift."
- Fluid Dynamics. Eddie's junior year deals primarily with fluid dynamics. The flight lessons? Air is a fluid, so this covers everything you need to know about the atmosphere.
- Attitude Determines Altitude. Eddie's senior year at Purdue is all about the first crack at an airplane and the conflict between civilian instruction (pitch determines speed, power determines altitude) and military doctrine (attitude determines altitude).
- UPT and ICE-T. Eddie starts his Air Force career as an Undergraduate Pilot Training student flying the T-37. The flight lesson revolves around everything that is ICE-T: Indicated, Calibrated, Equivalent, and True airspeed; while covering the computer side of the CPU-26 (military) and CR-3 (civilian) circular computers.
- Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow. Our first hands on with airplane stuff was ejection seat training, but that was augmented with classroom examination of something new to us: the jet engine. Auto mechanics often use the "suck, squeeze, bang, blow" phrase to describe a 4-stroke combustion engine. Well that actually applies to a jet engine too.
- Simulate. A month of simulators and we are already into instrument flying and navigation skills. The flight lessons cover the wind side of the CPU-26 and CR-3 computers.
- Aviate. Air Force pilots often look back at the T-37 as the "5,000 pound dog whistle," but when you've never flown an aerobatic jet before, it can be quite a handful. The flight lessons dive into potential and kinetic energy, our friend Bernoulli, air foils, and aerodynamic force. Have you ever wondered how it is "lift" is always perpendicular to the relative wind and "drag" is always opposite thrust? Well, they aren't.
- Recover! I've heard it has changed, but back then every Air Force pilot had to be spin qualified and we spent a lot of time in a state most pilots would call being out of control. The flight lessons start with unusual attitude recovery and end with spins. Chances are you've been doing those unusual attitude recoveries all wrong in the simulator. Bring this chapter to the sim with you next time.
- Charlie Brown. In the days before GPS, before RNAV, yes even before flight directors, every pilot knew about Charlie Brown Plus 30, and Tom Collins Plus 45. These days, knowing this stuff can keep you ahead of an FMS that has lost its way or wasn't programmed correctly. The flight lessons are all about course intercepts.
- Getting Cross. Whether your aircraft has a bona fide crosswind limit or just a "demonstrated crosswind," knowing how to figure that in your head can save you some heartache. The flight lesson shows you how.
- Everybody has an Angle. Off to the T-38, the supersonic white rocket. The Talon has a symmetrical wing (it is shaped the same on top and on bottom) and requires a healthy dose of AOA to fly. Even if you are flying a cambered wing, knowing the science behind angle of attack can keep you flying when mere mortal pilots have lost control. The flight lesson covers AOA, boundary layer theory, and adverse pressure gradients.
- In a Fix. Before the days of RNAV and GPS pilots had to know how to navigate from one fix to another without electronic aids. These days it is frowned upon, but knowing the secrets will keep you ahead of the FMS, even when the FMS is screwing things up. The flight lesson encapsulates the entire fix-to-fix procedure.
- Cooking With Gas. You might think flying an airplane with afterburners ends forever your worry about thrust and drag. As it turns out those principles are even more critical in these airplanes. The flight lesson looks at induced and parasite drag and how they are related to thrust.
- Go Around Burners! The "region of reversed command" is what most pilots call "the back side of the power curve." Do these pilots really understand what that means? I didn't until one day I came a few seconds from buying it. I was saved by two afterburners that I no longer have. The flight lesson tells you how to get from the back side of the power curve to where you want to always reside, the "region of normal command."
- Too Hot! Landing an airplane at 155 knots routinely teaches one to be mindful of the touchdown zone and brake effectiveness. Both of those can be adversely impacted by ground effect. That is this chapter's flight lesson: what exactly causes ground effect?
- Hold. Formation flying in a nimble airplane like a T-38 has the highest fun factor of any human activity. UPT couples that with something not so fun: holding. The flight lesson gets into the nuts and bolts on how to enter and stay in an FAA holding pattern, no matter the winds. It also gives a nifty Air Force secret about how to draw a pattern as you are getting the instructions.
- Critical. For some reason the Air Force thought it important that we all be supersonic jet jockeys so we did some of that too. Though I've never been supersonic since, having an understanding of critical Mach numbers has helped me in the region of speed that I do spend a lot of time, between 0.80 and 0.92 Mach. The flight lesson is all about critical Mach.
- Decision. I suffered my first of three engine failures at V1 in the T-38 and it was spectacular. It was quite the graduation present as I earned my Air Force pilot wings. The flight lesson is all about V1 under today's rules and regulations.
- SERE. "Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape" is survival and prisoner of war training and would seem to have little to do with flying. But in my case, I was paired with an Air Force navigator and spent my time fleeing the bad guys talking navigation. The flight lessons get deep into navigation, starting with the great circle and ending with the fundamentals of course and heading determination.
- Unstable Aircraft. The original KC-135A was underpowered and had negative lateral stability. In other words, left on its own the airplane wanted to invert itself. They say a new tanker copilot could figure all this out in five or six training flights, or they would never get it. Terrific. The flight lesson is all about stability and Dutch roll. If your yaw damper ever quits on you, this will be handy information for you.
- Unstable Pilots. Back then every Air Force copilot went through rites of passage complete with hazing. Quite often it involves the mundane task of computing takeoff data and the quicker you learn, the quicker the harassment stops. The flight lesson is all about VX, VY, TERPS, and 14 CFR 25 climb performance.
- Lost. Can one get lost with a navigator on board? Yes. The flight lesson is about plotting (when you have to, how do you do it, and what's the deal with start, mid, and end points?) and getting an accurate position off a VOR.
- Found. Part of being a SAC-trained killer back then was flying over the pole to drop bombs. For the tanker, it meant joining up with a bomber efficiently so he could get on his way to drop those bombs. The flight lesson is all about aircraft turn performance.
- Limitations. Older jet engines were remarkably reliable compared to their reciprocating ancestors, but they were prone to blowing up if you didn't treat them well. The flight lesson is about thrust management.
- Hands Full. I learned all about windshear flying a tanker in a 150 knot headwind at 3,000 feet. The flight lesson covers windshear recognition and recovery.
- The Leper Crew. Advanced alloys and computer controlled engine fuel controls have made jet engine water injection nothing more than an interesting footnote in aviation history. But understanding the principle will help you understand how a jet engine produces thrust. The flight lesson is just that: all about water injection.
- A Practiced Calm. A drawback to having a navigator is you have somebody else operating the radar and you tend to offload your weather avoidance responsibilities as a pilot. Not only do pilots need to know how to operate their radars they need to know why the radar works to most effectively use it. The flight lesson covers how a radar works and how to optimally set it for weather avoidance.
- Magic. Flying an ILS seems remarkably tame these days when compared to the higher tech methods in vogue, but it remains the most reliable way to put the airplane on the ground in the weather. How does it work? Is it magic? The flight lesson dives into the nuts and bolts of the ILS.
- The Big Sky Theory. It seems some instrument pilots rely on air traffic control to do their visual clearing for them and even those that do look outside now and then don't know proper visual scanning techniques. The flight lesson gets into the limitations of our eyes and how to best use them to spot traffic before it is too late.
Print Version or eBook?
I priced each book at the minimum level the publisher would allow. For an eBook that ends up being $9.99 and because the printed book is all color and 222 pages, that ended up being $14.99. So there is that, the print book will cost you another five dollars. So, that aside:
Both versions contain the same material but the print version has a few more pictures. The eBook version is right at the maximum allowed in size and another picture would have put it over the limit.
I suppose it is easier to search for things in the electronic version but the print version does have an index. You can carry the eBook wherever you carry your electronic device. (It is published for the Kindle but Kindle readers are available for your iPad, your PC, your MacBook, just about everything.) The print version isn't too hard to carry, though. It is published on 6" x 9" stock and is a half inch thick. I think it will look smart on any aviation library, especially as part of a five volume set.
So I can't answer this for you. Me? I bought both.
Where do I buy?
The publisher says "anywhere fine books are sold," but there is the matter of public interest. (This is a book for pilots, no doubt about it.) The book is available on Amazon.com right now, eBook and print.