The military-aviation book “The Devil Dragon Pilot” focuses on a secret aircraft that can fly at unbelievable speeds with special engines. While not disclosing too much in this positing and ruining it for readers, I thought you might want to understand some of the basic components of an aircraft and some simple aerodynamic concepts.
There are four forces on an aircraft that is flying in level, unaccelerated flight. The forces are thrust, lift, weight, and drag. If one of them exceeds the other, the aircraft is out of balance. Which is ok, because that’s how an aircraft, balloon, glider, missile, or rocket flies through the air.
The forward thrust is generated by the engines, and in Devil Dragon’s case, there are more than one. This force overcomes the force of drag. Drag is a force that acts rearward, like a parachute, and is generated by a disruption of airflow by the wing, along with other things sticking out of an aircraft. The force drag is opposite of thrust.
The third force is weight, which is the total amount of the aircraft, along with fuel, weapons and aircrew. If you ever fly on a commercial carrier, you would include luggage, meal carts, and carry-on bags, too. The weight of the aircraft pulls it down because of….wait for it….wait…the force of gravity! The force of gravity is opposite of lift and pushes down through the center of gravity, known to pilots as the “CG”.
Most airplanes have the same major components to the airframe, too, and Devil Dragon is no different: wings, landing gear, fuselage, and an engine(s). You already inherently know these parts: fuselage is the main body of an airplane and is where you and the aircrew sit, along with your luggage; wings are the airfoils that are bolted to the sides of the fuselage that support the aircraft in flight; landing gear support the aircraft on the ground for take-off, landing, taxiing, and parking. You already know engines!
And that’s how Devil Dragon flies. Read it today.
Question for readers: where is the fuel stored on an aircraft?
In a recent conversation with a reader who was getting ready to finish “The Devil Dragon Pilot”, I was asked about decision-making in the cockpit. She asked me about how pilots know what to do and when, during a flight. My answer? It depends. As she read in the book, it also depended for both Ford Stevens and Wu Lee, too.
Ford Stevens, the main character in “The Devil Dragon”, follows the aeronautical decision-making process, known formally as ADM. It is decision-making in a very matchless environment, except for perhaps medicine and spaceflight. It is an organized and efficient set of steps of practice used by pilots to consistently control the best course of action. A pilot’s decision will be based upon the situation on the ground or in the air, and the information a pilot has at the time.
Consider all the items a pilot must think about: altitude, fuel, navigation, air traffic, radio calls, birds, weather, passengers and cargo, enemy fire, system malfunctions…the list goes on. While some is very systematic and checklist oriented and dictated by FAA policy and aviation law, other situations require solid judgment.
What is great about this mysterious ADM is that you can learn it. Time has demonstrated in the industry that you can learn to improve your decision-making through experience and critical thinking. The ADM process takes pilots through the decision-making in the cockpit and layouts out the steps to success:
These steps are known to pilots for good decision-making:
- Identifying your personal attitudes hazardous to safe flight
- Learning behavior modification techniques
- Learning how to recognize and cope with stress
- Developing risk assessment skills
- Using all resources available
- Evaluating the effectiveness of one’s ADM skills.
As you read “The Devil Dragon Pilot”, I think you will see the pilots going through these steps verbally. In many scenes, I have written them into the characters as they are thinking and talking to themselves. If you look closely in the book, ADM is alive and well.