Wednesday, July 20, 2022

What's Up by LeRoy Cook

Why so loud?

After years of failing to achieve record-busting high temperatures, the Global Warning predictors are finally getting their way this week. Kansas City International airport is set to break the 100-degree mark for a couple of days, at least, and the weekend temperatures aloft were well above standard atmosphere numbers, borne on strong southwest low-level winds out of the southwest desert country.

Traffic wise, we had the usual crop of training missions come through this week, the UH-60 Black hawk Sikorsky helicopters from Whiteman AFB and the Piper Archers from Aviation Training Professionals at Kansas City Downtown airport. A Mooney M20C stopped through and an AirTractor AT 502 took on spraying duties. Few of the local crowd ventured out, due to the heat.

The hapless impaired pilot who landed out of fuel on I-70 by Grain Valley at 3 a.m. Thursday morning used up all his luck avoiding trucks and unseen obstructions. His airplane is repairable but his flying privileges are long gone. Reportedly only an unsupervised student pilot, he faces a long list of charges. Aviation has a inherent way of policing those who persist in poor judgment; airplanes bite fools, I’ve often said.

Weather and inclination permitting, this Saturday morning is already time for the monthly gathering of the Fliars Club, wherein tall tales and hunger lead us aloft. This month came in on a Friday

How come, we got asked, are some cropdusters louder than others? One could say some have bigger motors, but it’s the older smaller planes that make more takeoff noise, because they have longer 3-blade propellers that turn at supersonic speed. The big AirTractor 802 with a shorter 5-blade prop turns slower, even with 1200 hp at work.

Describing agricultural workplanes depends on how knowledgeable the speaker is. Properly, they aren’t “cropdusters” because we haven’t spread insecticide in dust form for years. And they aren’t always “sprayplanes” because a lot of material flown on is dry granules dispersed with a spreader under the hopper. Aerial Applicators is what the guvinment calls them, which covers a multitude of sins, from dropping fish into lakes to fighting forest fires. For now, we’ll just refer to them as “agplanes.” 

If you’re into World War II aircraft, the Commerative Air Force is bringing its “Texas Raiders” B-17 bomber to St. Joseph Rosecrans airport this weekend, June 15 to 17, accompanied by a C-47 transport and a T-6 Texan advanced trainer. Watching and looking are free, tours are reasonable, rides are pricey but worth every dollar. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see them fly over this area.

The weekly question wanted to know why the back of propeller blades, the side seen by the pilot, is painted flat black, while the front is usually left au natural, or with white painted tips. It’s because black renders the spinning prop invisible to the pilot’s view. For safety on the ground, we want the people in front of the plane to see the big meat cleaver. Next week’s puzzler is “who was Ernst Mach, and what did he know about supersonic flight?” Send your answers to

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