08 August 2006

Guess your way to becoming a pilot???

How should the flight controls be held while taxiing a tailwheel airplane with left quartering tailwind?

A. Left aileron up, elevator neutral.
B. Left aileron down, elevator neutral.
C. Left aileron down, elvator down.

-From the FAA private pilot written test question database

In order to become a private pilot one step is to pass the FAA written test. The test claims to test essential knowledge an airman needs to conduct safe flight operations.

When I heard that the test was multiple choice I immediately thought of those old AP exams with 5 possible responses where they subtracted 1/4 point for wrong answers. The FAA test has only 3 choices per question. If it followed the AP style it would subtract something like 1/2 point for each incorrect response.

To pass the FAA test requires 70% correct responses. Assuming 100 questions, let's say you KNOW the answer to 58 questions and guess on the 42 remaining questions. If you get 1/3 of those right and 2/3 wrong you have a raw score of 70 and would be on your to getting your wings. AP style, your 7o raw score would end up being... 58, i.e., the number you KNEW and you'd fail. In fact, under the AP method, answering 79 questions correctly and missing 21 questions would result in failure, because you only knew 69 of the questions.

Of course you could get lucky and get more of your guesses right (say by eliminating a few obviously wronge choices). Is it worth getting lucky on the test only to be unlucky while taxiing your $150,000 Diamond DA20-C1 with a strong left quarting wind?

Check the comments for both answers.

1 comment:

Jeff Shepley said...

Trivia time... So the answer to the question is C. However, the DA20-C10 is a tricycle-gear aircraft, so technically you'd leave the elevator neutral ;).