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Aviation Dictionary


Subject: Unabridged Aviation Dictionary
The originator is a retired airline captain, still in his 50's, with too much time on his hands, a much younger wife, 2 kids about to do college life, a garage full of cars and motor cycles.
Plays golf left handed.


180-Degree Turn - A sometimes difficult maneuver to perform; the degree of difficulty is usually determined by the size of the pilot's ego.

A & P Rating - Enables you to fly grocery supplies.

Aerial - That part of the aircraft most frequently broken off during the walk-around preflight inspection that pilots do to see if anything is broken off.

Aero - That portion of the atmosphere that lies over Great Britain.

Aerodrome - British word for airport. Exactly what you'd expect from a country that gives its aeroplanes names like Gipsy Moth, Slingsby Dart, and Fairey Battle Bomber.

Aileron - A hinged control surface on the wing that scares the hell out of airline passengers when it moves.

Airfoil - 1. Sword used for dueling in flight. Often used to settle disputes between crew members and passengers. 2. What pilots wrap their sandwiches in.

Airframe - When the FAA inspector knows that you have only a student license and sends his kids to bum a ride with you in the plane.

Air Mass - Impromptu religious service held on board an aircraft immediately following an announcement by the pilot that he is lost, having an engine problem, or running out of fuel.

Airplane - The infernal machine invented by two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio and perfected on the sands of the Outer Banks of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Precursor of the Frisbee.

Airspeed - 1. The speed of an airplane through the air. 2.True airspeed plus 20% when talking with other pilots. Deduct 25% when listening to a Navy aviator. 3. Measured in furlongs-per-fortnight in student aircraft.

Airstrip - In-flight performance by exotic female flight attendant.

Air Traffic Control Center - A drafty, ill-kept, barn-like structure in which people congregate for dubious reasons.

Alternate Airport - The airport that no aircraft has sufficient fuel to proceed to if necessary.

Angle of Attack - Pick-up lines that pilots use.

Arctic Frost - Attitude shown by uncooperative stewardess (also see "Horizontally Opposed").

Arresting Gear - Police equipment used for keeping order at airport parties.

Aspect Ratio - 36-24-36.

Autopilot - A would-be airplane pilot who flunked his checkride.

Bail Out - Dipping the water out of the cabin after a heavy rainstorm.

Barrel Roll - Unloading the beer for a hangar party.

Caged Gyro - Not much more docile than a wild gyro.

Caging the Gyro - Easier with domestic species.

Captain - 1. Any airline pilot wearing four stripes on his sleeve; often found strolling down Lovers' Lane holding his own hand. 2. Decorative dummy often found adorning the bridge of a ship.

Carburetor Ice - Phrase used when reporting a forced landing caused by running out of fuel.

Carburetor Icing - 1. Usually vanilla. 2. A phenomenon that happens to pilots at exactly the same time they run out of gas.

Certificated Aircraft - One that has all hazardous features camouflaged.

Cessna 310 - More than the sum of two Cessna 150's.

Chart - 1. Large piece of paper, useful for protecting cockpit surfaces from food and beverage stains. 2. An aeronautical map that provides interesting patterns for the manufacturers of children's curtains.

Chock - 1. Sudden and usually unpleasant surprise suffered by Mexican pilots. 2. Pieces of wood the lineboy slips in front of the wheels while the pilot isn't looking.

Cockpit - 1. A confined space in which two chickens fight each other, especially when they can't find the airport in a rainstorm. 2. Area in which the pilot sits while attempting to figure out where he is.

Collision - Unplanned contact between one aircraft and another. As a rule, collisions that result in the creation of several smaller and less airworthy aircraft from the original two are thought to be the most serious.

Course - Popular alternate landing field marked by fairways and greens. Curiously, pilots who land here are said to be "off-course."
Crab - 1. A technique used by pilots to compensate for crosswinds, usually without success. 2. Pilot who has just ground-looped after trying unsuccessfully to use this technique. 3. Pilot who has been unsuccessful in finding a suitable landing site (also see "Suitable Landing Site").

Crash - To bed down for the night. What every pilot hopes to do once he has found a suitable landing site (also see "Suitable Landing Site").

Cuban 8 - A family of political refugees in Miami.

Dead Reckoning - You reckon correctly, or you are.

De-icer - De person dat puts de ice on de wings.

Dive - Pilots' lounge or airport cafe.

Drag Chute - Emergency escape slide near copilot's window. Opens automatically if eccentric male captain shows up in women's clothes.

Engine Failure - A condition that occurs when all fuel tanks become filled with air.

Exceptional Flying Ability - Has equal number of takeoffs and landings.

FAA - Fear And Alarm.

Fast - Describes the speed of any high-performance aircraft. Lower-performance and training aircraft are described as "half-fast."

Final Approach - 1. Last pass a pilot makes at the opposite sex before giving up. 2. Many a seasoned pilot's last landing. 3. Many a student pilot's first landing.

Flashlight - Tubular metal container kept in flight bag for storing dead batteries.

Flight Instructor - Individual of dubious reputation, paid vast sums of money to impart knowledge of questionable value and cast serious doubt on the coordination, intelligence, and ancestry of student pilots.

Flight Plan - Scheme to get away from home to go flying.

Glide Distance - Half the distance from an airplane to the nearest emergency landing field.

Glider - Formerly "airplane," prior to running out of fuel.

Grass Strip - Often performed by exotic female flight attendants while enroute to Hawaii.

Gross Weight - 1. A 350-pound pilot (also see "Split S"). 2. Maximum permissible takeoff weight plus two suitcases, 10 cans of oil, four sleeping bags, four rifles, eight cases of beer, and the groceries.

Hangar - Home for anything that flies, mostly birds.

Heated Air Mass - Usually found near hangar, flight lounge, airport cafe, or attractive, non-flying members of the opposite sex.

Horizontally Opposed - NO!! (Also see "Arctic Frost")

Hotel - The letter H as pronounced in the phonetic alphabet. Most often heard in intercom conversations between pilots and flight attendants.

Hydroplane - An airplane designed to land on a wet, 20,000-foot-long runway.

Induced Drag - When a male copilot is persuaded by a kinky female flight attendant to put on women's clothes against his will.

Jet-assisted Takeoff - 1. A rapid-takeoff procedure used by a general aviation pilot who suddenly finds himself taking off on a runway directly in front of a departing 747. 2. Takeoff by pilot who ordered enchiladas for lunch at the airport coffee shop.

Junkers 52 - A collection of elderly airplanes that even the FAA can't make airworthy.

Kilometer - A unit of measurement used on charts to further confuse pilots who already have trouble with knots.

Lazy 8 - 1. Well-known fly-in resort ranch. 2. The airport operator, his four mechanics, and three lineboys.

Log - A small rectangular notebook used by pilots to record lies.

Magneto - 1. Spanish for, "What a cool-looking magnet!" 2. Not-very-famous Italian vaudeville magician, "The Great Magneto."

Mode - Term used by pilots in the Lafayette Escadrille during WWI to describe what they had to land in during rainy weather.

Motor - A word used by Englishmen and student pilots when referring to an aircraft engine. (also see "Aerodrome")

National Airport - Inordinately congested airport in Washington, D.C. whose Potomac River approach was used by Korean War pilots practicing to bomb the bridges at Toko-Ri.

Navigation - The process by which a pilot finds his way from point A to point B while actually trying to get to point C.

Occupied - An airline term for lavatory.

Oshkosh - A town in Wisconsin that is the site of the annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in. It is believed to have been named after the sound that most experimental aircraft engines make.

Parasitic Drag - A pilot who bums a ride back and complains about the service.

Pilot - A poor, misguided soul who talks about women when he's flying and flying when he's with a woman.

Pitch - The story you give your wife about needing an airplane to use in your business.

Pitot Tube - On long flights, something into which the pilot can pitot.

Prop Wash - 1. Cleaning agent used by student pilots. 2. Pilots' equivalent of "hogwash."

Pylon - All aboard!

Radar - An extremely realistic type of video game, often found at airports. Players try to send small game-pieces, called "blips," from one side of the screen to the other without colliding with each other. Player with the fewest collisions wins.

Range - Usually about 30 miles beyond the point where all fuel tanks fill with air.

Roger - The most popular name in radio.

Runway - 1. Place where exotic flight attendant starts her act (also see "Airstrip"). 2. Ramp extending from the stage into the audience area at all good burlesque houses in Vegas.

S-turn - Course flown by student pilot from point A to point B.

Safety Belt - Drink taken by instructor before flying with difficult student.

Short-field Takeoff - A takeoff from any field less than 10,000 feet long.

Skin Drag - Costume party in San Francisco.

Slip - Apparel worn by some pilots.

Split S - What happens to the pants of overweight pilots (also see "Gross Weight").

Stall - Technique used to explain to the bank why your car payment is late because you spent the money on flying.

Stewardess - A pretty gal who asks you what you want, then straps you in so you can't get it.

Suitable Landing Site - An attractive member of the opposite sex; suitability may sometimes be affected by arctic frost (also see "Arctic Frost").

Tactics - What the instrument panel clock sounds like when it needs fixing.

Taildragger - 1. An old pilot after a long flight. 2. A young pilot who over-rotates a tricycle gear aircraft on takeoff or landing.

Tailwind - Results from eating beans in the airport coffee shop; often causes oxygen deficiency in the immediate vicinity.

Trim Tab - 1. A device that can fly an airplane better than the pilot. 2. Popular diet beverage for fat pilots (also see "Gross Weight"). 3. A soft drink popular among female pilots who like to wear skin-tight red jumpsuits.

Useful Load - Volumetric capacity of the aircraft, without regard to cargo weight.

Wilco - Roger's brother, the nerd.

Windsock - Well-perforated item of clothing worn inside the shoe by underpaid copilot who can't afford a replacement or a darning needle.

Wingstrut - Peculiar, ritualistic walk performed by student pilots upon getting out of low-winged trainers following first flight performed without instructor yelling at them. Usually results in instructor yelling at the student.





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