Not all words are powerful.

Words spoken in the proper context by the appropriate person can be extremely powerful. “Cleared for takeoff” is one such example. These words must be delivered by the appropriate air traffic controller, at a specific time, to a particular aircraft. It is the combination of these three things, along with the actual message, that makes the clearance meaningful.

1. Context

2. Speaker

3. Receiver

4. Message

In some cases, even jargon is necessary. Communication is complicated, which means that we have an important responsibility to steward the power of words.

A corollary is this: Some words should be written down. Some words should be spoken. Some words should not.

Life is a journey. And these are observations from ours.

__________________________________________________

You’ve just read observations, a monthly column that illustrates in my personal life and leadership the technical concepts found in ATOMs. Some people may not want the technical content that appears elsewhere on this website–if you only want to follow these more personal updates, I set up a special subscription for that option here: by Email or RSS.

Sometimes on the road of life, I find myself in two roles–both leader and follower. For example, when you stand in a line, you follow the person in front of yourself, but you lead the person behind you. I don’t believe that you have to be a leader or a follower. In fact, I think the best leaders are the ones following something worthwhile and helping those who can’t yet lead themselves.

Life is a journey. And these are observations from ours.

__________________________________________________

You’ve just read observations, a monthly column that illustrates in my personal life and leadership the technical concepts found in ATOMs. Some people may not want the technical content that appears elsewhere on this website–if you only want to follow these more personal updates, I set up a special subscription for that option here: by Email or RSS.

Feedback needed: Should I clean up the format? Should I hyperlink or just leave it as plain text? What else do you like or not like about the layout? Send a tweet to @FlightTestFact with your thoughts.

6/1/1944 First flight of the Lockheed XP-58 Chain Lightning #flighttest http://ow.ly/3leDJr

6/2/2009 First flight of the Lockheed Martin X-55 ACCA #flighttest http://ow.ly/3lh5I6

6/3/1949 First flight of the Lockheed XF-90, with variable incidence empennage #flighttest http://ow.ly/xz1LN via @afmuseum

6/4/1980 First flight of the Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15J #flighttest http://ow.ly/3lmegf

6/8/1959 First flight of the North American X-15 / #video http://ow.ly/xKNDK #flighttest / X-15 symposium: http://ow.ly/xKNFc

6/9/1974 First flight of the Northrop YF-17 prototype #video http://ow.ly/xMbo0 / @afmuseum http://ow.ly/xMbpb #flighttest

6/10/1987 First flight of the Boeing Model 360, technology demonstrator #flighttest @flightglobal article http://ow.ly/xPg1v

6/11/2012 First flight of the FlyNano Proto, single seat LSA type seaplane #flighttest http://ow.ly/xRWQ5

6/12/1994 First flight of the @Boeing 777 Airplane http://ow.ly/xUWdG #flighttest

6/13/1979 First flight of Solar One, 3d electric aircraft to fly #photo @flightglobal http://ow.ly/xXzF6 / #photo http://ow.ly/xXzHa

6/14/13 A350 XWB First Flight http://ow.ly/y0OVH #flighttest via @airbus @airbusintheUS

6/15/1945 First flight of the North American XP-82 Twin Mustang #flighttest http://ow.ly/y2I4p / blog: http://ow.ly/y2I5o

6/16/1954 First flight of the Lockheed XFV-1, experimental VTOL aircraft #flighttest http://ow.ly/y4tZY

6/17/1961 First flight of India’s first jet aircraft, the HAL-HF-24, #flighttest http://ow.ly/y7KXE http://ow.ly/y7L2L

6/18/1981 First flight of the @Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk http://ow.ly/yaw2S #flighttest

6/19/1950 First Flight of the Hawker P.1081 “Australian Fighter” #flighttest http://ow.ly/3lXmpq

6/20/1951 First flight of the Bell X-5 variable wing-sweep research aircraft #flighttest #photo @NASAArmstrong http://ow.ly/yfESh

6/22/1984 First flight of the Rutan Voyager via @airandspace #flighttest http://ow.ly/yj5ja

6/23/2006 First flight of the Cessna NGP proof of concept aircraft #flighttest http://ow.ly/3m55f3

6/24/1956 First flight of the Sukhoi Su-9 Fishpot #flighttest http://ow.ly/ynT8l

6/25/1946 First flight of the Northrop YB-35 #flighttest http://ow.ly/3m8Xc2

6/26/1983 First flight of the Hawker-800 #flighttest http://ow.ly/yt0ro

6/27/1952 First flight (unpowered glide) of the Bell X-2 #flighttest http://ow.ly/yvIBq Also see bellx-2.com via @filmwings

6/29/2007 First flight of the Piasecki X-49 (VTDP) vectored thrust ducted propeller #flighttest http://ow.ly/yzenL

6/30/1968 First flight of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy #flighttest http://ow.ly/yABhq via @usairforce

5/31/2002 First flight of the Toyota TAA-1 #flighttest http://ow.ly/xsZOa http://ow.ly/xsZPh 

__________________________________________________

Check out @FlightTestFact on Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+ for more flight test safety references, videos, and information daily.

Other first flight indices: First - January | Previous – May

Aeronautical VFR ChartI’ve been having a conversation with other members of my profession, flight test, an area of expertise that involves engineering, aviation, and generally speaking, the scientific process. The major points of my plea are as follows.

1. I personally believe that probability and other applied tools of mathematics and statistics are as important as airmanship. [At this point, I have, by my choice of words--airmanship--down-selected the breadth of my audience.]
2. I also believe that it’s not the formula for standard deviation (or any other probability distribution) that’s most important but the “big ideas,” the fundamental principles and the way they guide our thinking.
3. I want to write a clear and convincing explanation in some format less than dissertation length.
Would you mind reading the anecdote and letting me know if a light bulb comes on for you? Does it do what I am trying to do?

__________________________________________________

I want you to recall an elementary idea, a cross-country flight. Do you remember back to the days when you were learning how to fly? For me, the plane was a Cessna 152, tail number four-hotel-bravo, and the place was Cook County Airport (15J) in southern Georgia. My instructor’s name was Ian. He flew seaplanes somewhere in the South Pacific for many years before teaching private pilot students.
When I walked into the flight school one day, Ian told me something I would never forget. In fact, he predicted I would never forget it before he even told me: “Can ducks make vertical turns with turbulence.” That mnemonic helps me remember the steps needed to plan a cross-country flight. The fact is, a pilot’s head is full of crazy sayings and silly words that mean something when translated into aviation jargon. Remembering a wacky sentence about ducks is easier than remembering Compass heading, Deviation, Magnetic heading, Variance, True heading, Wind correction, and True course. Back at Cook County Airport, I opened up the sectional charts and sat down to figure out where I wanted to go. Once I did, I could draw a single straight line on my chart and jot down a heading. Those two things would get me pretty close: 255° magnetic for 25 minutes. After five minutes on a 255° heading, I should cross over a major highway with an overpass to my left. I look outside to see where it is. It’s not as far south as I thought it would be. At seven-and-a-half minutes, I should pass over the southern tip of a large pond. The pond is just north of my position. Apparently, the winds are drifting me south of my intended course. I correct my heading to 260. At 15 minutes, I should overfly an intersection in a small town. I am just north of the intersection. A heading of 260 degrees corrected me back to course and then a bit right. Two-five-seven is right in between. That should keep me on course.

These steps—clock to map to ground—are the process we follow when navigating in an aircraft. The idea that “The pond is just north of my position” and being able to make that judgment call is a critical element of airmanship. It’s also a fundamental principle of applied tools of mathematics and statistics. “Just north of my position” is close enough…in this case, we don’t need to quantify what “just north of” means.

In conclusion, I want to explicitly state three fundamental facts illustrated in this anecdote.
1. We are going to encounter uncertainty. Uncertainty means we won’t hit every waypoint.
2. Predict-test-evaluate is the process for navigating uncertainty. In aviation, this means plan the flight— fly the plan using the “Clock-map-ground” technique—and evaluate using your “engineering judgment” when that’s close enough.
3. Probability and other applied tools of mathematics and statistics help us evaluate when “that’s close enough” (as in the case of navigation above) or when more rigor is needed.

__________________________________________________

Download the white paper manifesto below to learn more about ATOMs, Michelangelo’s paintbrush, and General Abrams.

ATOMs is a monthly column that introduces analytical tools of mathematics and statistics and illustrates their application. To read more about ATOMs, go to the incomplete index, read Where Do We Go From Here, or view the online workbook here.

Feedback needed: Should I clean up the format? Should I hyperlink or just leave it as plain text? What else do you like or not like about the layout? Send a tweet to @FlightTestFact with your thoughts.

5/1/2012 First flight of the GippsAero GA10 Airvan #flighttest http://ow.ly/wc9J7 @gippsaero1

5/2/2009 First flight of the Gweduck amphibious experimental, replica of Grumman Widgeon http://ow.ly/wcaiT http://ow.ly/wcajX

5/3/1977 First flight of the @one_bell Bell XV-15 titlrotor VTOL experimental aircraft #flighttest http://ow.ly/wrOI5 via @airandspace

5/4/1963 First flight of the @DassaultFalcon 20 Mystere #flighttest http://ow.ly/wrPuv

5/5/2005 First flight of the Falcon 7X #flighttest http://ow.ly/wrQ6N / @Dassault_OnAir http://ow.ly/wrQ7p

5/6/1959 First flight of the @SNECMA Coléoptère #flighttest http://ow.ly/wrQhA

5/7/1944 First flight of the Beechcraft XA-38 #flighttest http://ow.ly/wrQzc @afmuseum

5/8/1971 First flight of the @Dassault_OnAir Mirage G8-01 variable geometry prototype aircraft via @MuseeAirEspace http://ow.ly/wrQXg

5/9/1937 First flight of the Lockheed XC-35, 1st ever pressurized cabin for military high-alt research #flighttest http://ow.ly/wrQs4

5/10/1972 First flight of the Fairchild Republic A-10A #flighttest http://ow.ly/wrRaj @afmuseum

5/11/1987 First flight of the Learjet 31 #flighttest http://ow.ly/wHFwI @Bombardier_Aero

5/12/1967 First flight of the Aermacchi AM.3 — this one was flown by @theNTPS National Test Pilot School

5/13/1940 First flight of the Bell XFL Airabonita experimental interceptor – competed w/ P-39 Airacobra http://ow.ly/wHFWH #flighttest

5/14/1939 First flight of the Short Stirling, RAF’s first 4-engine bomber of WWII #flighttest http://ow.ly/wHG4g

5/15/1939 First flight of the Fairchild PT-19 primary pilot training aircraft #flighttest http://ow.ly/wHG9P

5/16/1930 First flight of the Bleriot-Zappata 110 French research plane #flighttest http://ow.ly/wHGyF

5/17/1997 First flight of the Boeing X-36 #flighttest http://ow.ly/wHGP6 @afmuseum // @NASAArmstrong http://ow.ly/wHGPU

5/18/1940 First flight of the @Saabgroup Saab 17 ow.ly/wXDvp / #video ow.ly/wXDxc

5/19/1943 First flight of the Boeing-Lockheed Vega XB-38 #flighttest @afmuseum http://ow.ly/wZNJ5

5/20/2003 First flight of Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne #flighttest http://ow.ly/x2AKa #photo gallery http://ow.ly/x2AQK

5/21/2005 First flight of the @Boeing KC-767 International Tanker #flighttest http://ow.ly/x5Dh2

5/22/1981 First flight of the Gulfstream Peregrine 600 / on @flighglobal http://ow.ly/x8fnD / #photo http://ow.ly/x8fpk #flighttest

5/24/1967 First flight of Aero Spaceline Mini Guppy #flighttest / #video http://ow.ly/xdPOT / @BoeingAirplanes http://ow.ly/xdPR8

5/25/1964 First flight of the Ryan XV-5 Vertifan #flighttest http://ow.ly/xex9l / #video http://ow.ly/xexgM http://ow.ly/xexhj

5/26/2004 First flight of the Bombardier Global Express Sentinel R1 5/Airborne Stand-off Radar Aircraft (ASTOR) http://ow.ly/xfQY3

5/27/1958 First flight of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II #flighttest via @BoeingAirplanes http://ow.ly/xhSRP

5/27/1970 First flight of the Boeing Vertol 347 testbed with variable incidence wing #flighttest http://ow.ly/xkG5J #helicopter

5/29/2004 First flight of the HAL Saras Indian light transport aircraft #flighttest http://ow.ly/xnykX

5/30/1972 First flight of the Northrop YA-9A prototype fighter in USAF flyoff #flighttest via @afmuseum http://ow.ly/xqxaE

5/31/2002 First flight of the Toyota TAA-1 #flighttest http://ow.ly/xsZOa http://ow.ly/xsZPh 

__________________________________________________

Check out @FlightTestFact on Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+ for more flight test safety references, videos, and information daily.

Other first flight indices: First - January | Previous – April

Col James B. Irwin was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 15.  Irwin crashed a plane, breaking almost every bone in his body, just a few years before being accepted into the astronaut program.

His biography, To Rule the Night, will be available on the Kindle on July 26th, 2014, the anniversary of his launch into space.

irwin-jb

Here are several interesting links that are still quite active.

After he returned from the moon, he started the High Flight Foundation.

Facebook:

Page for James Irwin

James B Irwin personal page

To Rule the Night (coming July 26)

High Flight Foundation of facebook

Official bio from NASA

22 May 1981 was the first flight of the Gulfstream American Peregrine 600, a trainer aircraft prototype developed for the US military.

Gulfstream Peregrine 600

Flightglobal published a news piece on the aircraft here.
You can see two more pictures of the aircraft here.

__________________________________________________

Airplanes by Design features photographs of aircraft from a test pilot perspective, highlighting aeronautical engineering characteristics and flight test facts.

WANTED: Your pictures and videos. Do you have pictures of aircraft that uniquely illustrate airplane design characteristics?

I’d be happy to post them and link to your website. Send a message to @FlightTestFact on Twitter to share your Airplanes by Design stories and photos. See more Flight Test photos flickr or Pinterest too.

Rose Petal Press is the digital storehouse for free downloads of pictures, like this collection of Apollo 16 photos. If there is a particular set of photos you need, contact me, and I’d be happy to upload a zip file for your use.