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.
The book “The Devil Dragon Pilot” features a variety of U.S. and Chinese military aircraft, but one corporate aircraft that I write about extensively is the Gulfstream 650ER. Fictionally borrowed from Corning, Inc. of Corning, New York, our main character Captain Ford Stevens does some remarkable stuff with this jet.
This model of the Gulfstream is their newest aircraft, and can extend the reach of the aircraft to 7,500 miles without stopping. Not only is that an impressive distance, but that is non-stop, flying at Mach 0.85. The jet can comfortably fit 19 passengers, sleep up to 10, have a maximum takeoff weight of 103,000+ pounds, and cruise at 51,000 feet mean sea level. Impressive performance in the pilot and passenger worlds.
The outstanding presentation of this jet is extraordinary to non-pilots and pilots alike. This extended range alone, to put it in perspective, makes it possible to fly from Hong Kong to Washington, DC, or Singapore to Houston, without stopping for fuel. Gulfstream pilots tell me no other jet has this combo of speed, aircraft performance, passenger load and distance, and is a real pleasure to fly.
The interior, which is featured extensively in “The Devil Dragon Pilot” in multiple scenes, provides extreme quietness, comfort, and luxury. Many configurations of the jet are available, from conference rooms to private bedrooms to leather couches. The 16 windows allow a terrific view of the sky above and earth below. Can you imagine having a shower in your jet? Yes, Gulfstream can make you one.
The cabin circulates 100% fresh air every two minutes, which helps cut down on jet lag. What also helps is that the cabin altitude is at only 4,000 feet, which helps all on board feel great as everyone crosses multiple time zones.
What also comes into play for Ford Stevens is the onboard technology. Without giving away too much to readers that have not read “The Devil Dragon Pilot” yet, Gulfstream has generated an extensive Cabin Management System that allows passengers and crew to control lighting, window shades, temperature and other “things” with their Apple iOS smartphone. This technology will provide the reader with a very exciting scene while airborne!
Lastly, the cockpit is a dream to any pilot. If there was a pyramid of aircraft on any pilot’s wish list to fly, this G650ER is at the top. The technical, high-end avionics and glass instrumentation help the aircrew fly and navigate to nearly anywhere on earth. Her onboard computers work with the Captain and First Officer in creating a smooth, safe flight for all. The large format screens give the crew the ability to move flight information information and instrumentation around, depending on what stage of flight they are in, right down to touchdown landing, rollout, parking, and shutdown. Impressive to say the least.
My friend and professional photographer Bill Young was kind enough to share some of his professional photos with me. Please visit his website at www.BillYoungImage.com if you would like to see some of his outstanding photographs.
The last portion I’ll mention about this G650ER jet is that I modified it a bit after reading about the great work being done at Gulfstream Special Missions in Savannah, Georgia. This office has the capability to custom modify any Gulfstream jet to a customer’s specifications. From Space Shuttle simulators to atmosphere studies to military missions, this special office deserves the title Special Missions.