Passing the Test

If you think today's FAA license test questions are tough, go back some 75 years and see what an aspiring (and perspiring) student pilot faced in a CAA private pilot written exam.  Bear in mind, as well, these were not multiple-choice questions—one had to spell out the answers in order to pass—and they were based on 1930s regulations. This brain-bender comes from a 1935 aviation magazine. (We don't have all the answers. Ask FAA and see if even they know...)

How many of these questions can you answer? They are some of those asked of applicants for a private pilot's license by the Department of Commerce. You need to correctly answer these, and many more, too, if you would qualify in 1935:

•  May an unlicensed pilot in an unlicensed ship carry paying passengers from one state to another?

•  Is it necessary for an airplane bearing an advertisement to be licensed if flown between states?

•  What is the minimum altitude in flying over a football game?

•  May acrobatics be performed with passengers for hire?

•  How do you recover from a tailspin, and how do you tell when a ship is about to spin?

•  How is the effect of propeller torque counteracted in the rigging of an airplane?

•  What are the advantages and disadvantages of dihedral in an airplane?

•  State the possible causes for the following: Nose heaviness, left wing heaviness, excessive vibration?

•  Name three causes for a loss of oil pressure?

•  Name four reasons for an air-cooled motor to overheat, given that the lubrication system functions perfectly?

•  Name the four basic types of clouds.

•  Why is it dangerous to fly close to thunderheads?

•  Your compass course is 274 degrees, the deviation is 4 degrees west, the variation 3 degrees west. What is your true course?

•  How would you know if the wind shifted while you were flying a compass course from one town to another?

•  What method is used to protect the inside of steel tubing in a fuselage against rust?

•  How do you "track" a propeller?

•  Define stagger wire, thimble, turtleback, walking beam, routed spar.

•  What is the rule regarding overtaking aircraft?

•  What day markings are required on airship mooring cables?

•  What is the international radio distress signal?

•  How many coats of dope should be applied to the fabric of a newly-covered wing?

•  What are convection currents?