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Aircraft TYPE Identification

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Aircraft TYPE Identification

Old 3rd Jul 2017, 06:23
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Aircraft TYPE Identification

Good Morning,

I'm that new to this flying malarkey that I've not had my first proper lesson, yet. However, I have read. Oh, how I have read! Useful books. Less than useful ones. This forum (and others).

My (dumb(?)) question is:- Am I expected to learn ALL the different aircraft makes/types I might encounter, via the radio?
Eg "G-????, Traffic is a Boeing (or Airbus) at 3 miles" or, "Number two behind the Citabria".

I realise that, to start with, my Instructor will/should be able to but, I worry that even in a photo. I can't easily spot the difference between a Boeing and an Airbus. Nor a Citabria from a Cessna or Piper Cub.

At the moment, High wing vs Low wing vs Whirly wing is best I can do.

THNKS!
Oscar Charlie 192 is offline  
Old 3rd Jul 2017, 10:40
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As far as you are concerned Boeing = Airbus = a big one
Learjet = Gulfstream = medium sized
Citabria = Piper = Cessna = small one (usually), if you want to get clever you could also try to remember that Cessnas tend to have their wings on the top.
The complicated bit may come when ATC tells you to "park behind the cessna", if you don't understand then just ask ATC to elaborate and they will say it another way, eg "yellow high wing" .... you will look ignorant ..... but maybe that does not matter.

My wife was once told to park "behind the Lightnings" (this was some time ago) and when she queried was advised to look for the "pointy ones" (cue sexist comments in the tower).

I will say that, in aviation, trying to scrape by with the minimum knowledge does not really cut it. Sooner or later you will be alone in an aircraft without anyone to ask.
Romeo Tango is offline  
Old 3rd Jul 2017, 11:10
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Welcome to the group Oscar Charlie,

RT's points reflect my thoughts. You are not expected to know all the types, ATC probably does not either!

Sooner or later you will be alone in an aircraft without anyone to ask.
Yes, and when you are, either someone on the radio will be able to help you, and if no one is available to help on the radio, you probably have a lot more space and freedom around you, so a hurried decision will not be required.

Historically, type identification is something of a self challenge for pilots. It is worth the effort in the long term, though not the worry in the short term. There are books specifically produced with that in mind, you will see silhouette three view images for each type, and be able to distinguish features. These date back to World War 2, when attacking one of the good guys became a new risk to manage.
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 11:18
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Become a "spotter", you will have it sorted within a couple of months......!!!

Last edited by Planemike; 3rd Jul 2017 at 11:59.
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 11:44
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With the exception of parking instructions - as discussed above, generally, just look for ANYTHING that appears to be flying roughly where ATC tells you. Then figure out what the instruction means (ie: number 2 following x, means you need to position behind it.) and follow it.

You'll quickly start to get an idea of the common types of aeroplanes flying at your airfield, and appreciate what they look like on the ground. Following this, you'll go to some farm strips and learn all other types of planes all over again! There are SO many of them - nobody knows them all! (Yes even the keenest spotter will not know some types!)
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 12:03
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It's more important that they are informing you of traffic. The make is extra-curricular information that you will, with experience, use to your advantage.

By the same token, never assume anything. It's okay to ask for clarification. There's no embarrassment in doing so, just like making a go-around if a nasty crosswind is testing your limits.

You're not increasing the workload on the controller by asking - they'll be happy you did, as let's face it, the alternative would very much increase their workload...
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 12:34
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You will not be required to identify different types of aircraft during training.
You will naturally pick up enough over the course of time, just by being around them.
How many different makes and models of cars, busses, vans or heavy trucks can you identify?
I fly a single engine low wing yellow thing.
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 13:04
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Originally Posted by Oscar Charlie 192 View Post
Good Morning,

I have read. Oh, how I have read!


At the moment, High wing vs Low wing vs Whirly wing is best I can do.
There seems to be a conflict between those two statements.
Amadis of Gaul is offline  
Old 3rd Jul 2017, 14:45
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At my age I often forget that they are called aircraft!
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 17:44
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The times I heard "have the Cessna in sight" referring to my 3-axis ultralight... Admitting it IS a tricycle high-wing, but even so...
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 20:29
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The times I heard "have the Cessna in sight" referring to my 3-axis ultralight... Admitting it IS a tricycle high-wing, but even so...
I always say... "Traffic in sight" or "visual with the traffic" so as to alleviate the mocking
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Old 3rd Jul 2017, 20:38
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Originally Posted by Oscar Charlie 192 View Post
My (dumb(?)) question is:- Am I expected to learn ALL the different aircraft makes/types I might encounter, via the radio?
It only really matters when you're told "park between the Gobble and the DeGook". It's a simply matter to seek clarification: "do you mean to the left of the red one?".
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Old 8th Jul 2017, 21:46
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Originally Posted by Amadis of Gaul View Post
There seems to be a conflict between those two statements.
In what way, Sir?

Maybe I just didn't read the right things. Perhaps you have a suggested reading list, re. aircraft id's?
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Old 9th Jul 2017, 09:52
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Flying over to Edinburgh Airport.
Tower: "G-XX when you have the landing 757 shuttle in sight, plan your track to fly behind."
Me: "Looking."
Voice from shuttle: "We're a 737 this morning."
Me. "Ah, that's why I couldn't see you."
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Old 9th Jul 2017, 11:22
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Answering the original question - you'll pick up a fair amount as you go along by osmosis and reading the occasional flying magazine. It really isn't all that important - "airliner" "twin", "light aircraft", "microlight", "helicopter" are good enough to keep you going.

G
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Old 9th Jul 2017, 12:39
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My late wife never got the hang of aircraft identification.

She employed a binary method; types were either 'Concorde' or 'Not Concorde'.
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Old 9th Jul 2017, 12:58
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Supposedly a true story.

One morning, the merger between Air France and KLM was announced. At Schiphol airport, ATC wanted a KLM aircraft to follow a certain Air France aircraft to the runway, so they told the KLM "...follow the company 737....". That greatly confused the KLM crew who apparently had not gotten the news yet.

On a more personal note, I was a solo student and told to taxi to the runway "...behind the Cardinal". Not knowing my aircraft, I told ATC "...all I see is a Cessna". Miffed reply from the other aircraft "...a Cardinal is a Cessna...".

As others have said, if you have a reasonable grasp of the size and shape of the various aircraft types, you'll be OK.
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Old 9th Jul 2017, 13:11
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This sort of "naming convention" problem happens all the time, not just with aircraft.

I had a trivial incident a month or so ago whilst routing through Glasgow's airspace - I was being bounced about somewhat handflying inside convective cloud tracking towards the Glasgow airport overhead on GPS and ded-reckoning. I was asked by ATC to give my estimated time for "GOW". It took me the best part of five minutes as a one-handed-paper-hangar to establish that "GOW" was a beacon at the airport (which I had an estimate for and could have given straight away if asked for an estimate for "Glasgow airport").

You just deal with it, it's never life threatening, and you can always ask if the issue is urgent.

G
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Old 9th Jul 2017, 18:15
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Flying the Vickers FunBus into the colonies, it was quite common for someone to ask "Say, what kindda airplane is that?"

Having once said "You know what a VC-25 is?, Well we're a VC10 from the UK which should be accorded similar courtesies" only to find half the USAF plus a red carpet waiting for us on arrival, I decided that a different response would be more appropriate in future. So I copied down the introduction to the aircrew manual and, when asked, was happy to read out "The VC10 is an all-metal, low wing cantilever monoplane.....etc etc".

Bless them, our colonial cousins merely said "Gee, thanks" upon the conclusion of such a monologue!
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Old 9th Jul 2017, 20:07
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Originally Posted by Amadis of Gaul View Post
There seems to be a conflict between those two statements.
Please enlighten us about the conflict. The Op has indicated he has read a lot. He has also stated that the best he can (currently) do is differentiate between high wing, low wing and helicopter. Based on that, he's made a pretty good start.

Or how about you tell me, with just a glance, how to differentiate between a Cirrus and a Columbia? Or how about more common aircraft you probably come across on a day to day basis - let's say Cessna 182 v 172 - without looking at the naming on the plane, that is? And now, to make it all the more difficult, how differentiating about a 172 Reims Rocket from a C182?

I don't see any conflict between those two statements the OP made....
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