## Thursday, June 3, 2010

### More math than you can shake a stick at!

I have done several blog posts on aircraft math, because I travel a bit and have learned that flying requires lots of math. For example, Monday I noticed the Percentage of Error in our flying times from LHR to LAX to SAN. (That's London Heathrow to Los Angeles International to San Diego).

Here's a view of the approach to San Diego International Airport.

I started to read up on flight plans, and navigation, and realized it's WAY complicated - well beyond the capability of many math students. But we can learn a little bit about the math requirements to be a pilot by looking at what every pilot must consider.

We want to know:

How Far in nautical miles? Remember we are flying above and around a slightly-squashed sphere.
How High in feet or meters? Usually measured by a pressure altimeter and rounded by 2 digits.
How Fast in knots (nautical mph) or Mach units (for the extra-fast!) for airspeed, ground speed, etc.
How Heavy is my aircraft, measured in kilograms, pounds or tons?
How Much fuel in either pounds, gallons or tons?
How Hot is the ambient temperature, measured in degrees C or F?
How Windy is it, in knots, and are there headwinds, tailwinds or crosswinds?
How Long in feet is the runway? Hopefully 6000-10,000 feet for a large aircraft.
What Heading in degrees relative to magnetic North is the runway?
What Elevation is the airport? because air is thinner as we go up in the mountains
Which Runway am I to use? As in many cases we have to know if it's 27Left or 27Right
What Visibility is there in airspace and on the ground? In meters or miles from zero to 50-60 miles!
How Cloudy because flying through clouds means flying on instruments (or going around)
Which Airways tells us which invisible "roads" we have to fly along up in the sky
What Time is it? described in Zulu time (Greenwich or Universal Time)
What Attitude means is my nose pointing up or down?
What Climb/Descent Rate tells me how fast I am changing my altitude
Which Frequency describes where to tune my radio so I can speak with Air Traffic Control
Which STAR or Standard Terminal Arrival Route do I use to make my approach to the airport?
Which Gate or where do I park this thing and get off!

And finally, in what parking lot zone did I leave my car? and how much will it cost to get it out!