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March 25, 2002
 
Some Aviation History
by Bernard Rawlings
Retired Boeing 747 Captain from TWA
 
Bernard had mentioned to me some ole-time aviation terms like "kicks" and "fans" and I asked him to elaborate. Here is his colorful reply:
 
I'm not a real old-time aviator but I flew with some, right after World War II. Some of the TWA captains I flew with dated back before WWI, and that's getting pretty close to Orville and Wilbur. The airman's lingo has changed with the machinery.

I've told you how old-time flight instructors used to yell stuff like, "Kick that top rudder!" to me in 1942. (They were yelling over a rubber hose called a "Gosport Tube" which hooked up an instructor, in the rear seat of an open-cockpit wood-and-rag primary trainer, and me in the front seat, freezing in Texas winter skies). What the instructor meant was "Stomp hard on the rudder pedal on the side of the higher wing, because we are in a bank, about to stall, and this airplane will spin in the direction of the low wing if you try to recover with the aileron." Advice like that sticks with student pilots a long time, and it may not be appropriate when the student pilot becomes the operator of a modern wing-mounted jet when the rudder is a long way back there, at the end of a powerful lever-arm assisted by umpteen thousand pounds of hydraulic pressure.

"Fanning the rudder" was a primitive way of adding a bit of drag to small airplanes, without wing flaps, when the pilot found himself a bit too high near the end of a landing approach. Such maneuvers are not really appropriate in large passenger airplanes, nor are side-slips. But, about 1949, I was copilot to a real early-bird TWA captain who was a bit high going into Athens on a DC-4 passenger flight, and I watched with awe as he lowered a wing and firmly stood on the opposite rudder pedal and neatly sideslipped 30 tons of iron and aluminum into a respectable landing.

Barney Rawlings


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