Friday, June 13, 2008

How I know pilots are smart

So far I'm keeping to my goal of one textbook chapter a day, more or less. The technical information is increasingly daunting.

Helicopter physics are are more complex than those of an airplane. The rotor blades function like wings, creating lift, but their relationship with the air is much more complex than airplane wings because they are spinning.

But even before you begin to grasp those processes, you gotta learn to understand the lingo. Here's an example from my text:

"The maximum lift coefficient occurs at the critical (stall) angle, which also has a high drag coefficient. Thus the ratio of lift coefficient to drag coefficient at high angles of attack is very poor and results in grossly inefficient performance. The minimum drag coefficient occurs at zero degree angle of attack (for symmetrical shape) where the lift coefficient is zero."

Got that? I'm not completely convinced that all pilots have to understand all this stuff on a technical level, just like you and I can drive without knowing the physics of our cars' tires on the road.

I'll find out in Hawaii how much I really need to know. Until then, I'm going to try to learn all I can. One of the first things I've learned is that flying things is probably not for dumb people.

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