As technology advances, innovation follows. Throughout the modernization of aircraft, engineers have worked to make planes safer, quieter, and more convenient for passengers. Jet airliners have come a long way, but there will still be plenty of improvements to come. Take a look below at the basic framework of an airplane, including the interior windows and overhead bins as well as the exterior fuselage, wings, turbofans, and empennage.
When the first airliner entered service, it was constructed with square cabin windows. However, after two fatal accidents, investigators found that window corners contributed to cabin pressurization which deteriorated planes’ aluminum-alloy skin. Furthermore, they discovered rounded or oval windows prevent deterioration by improving the distribution of pressurization stressors.
As with most things, the overhead compartment has advanced since its first appearance. In the 1920s, passengers would hang lightweight items on overhead racks made of aluminum and netting, although these were only found about the rear seating. However, in 1969, the arrival of closing overhead storage bins became an industry standard.
The fuselage is the body of the plane. At the front of the fuselage is the cockpit, where pilots operate the aircraft, and it is also the part of the plane where the empennage and wings are attached.
Wings & Winglets
While all parts of a plane are equally important, the wings generate most of the lift to hold the plane in the air. As the plane is pushed through the air to create lift, the air resists this motion, and a drag, or an aerodynamic force, transpires; as a result, winglets are tips on the end of the wing that reduce drag.
In efforts to decrease the engine noise and increase its efficiency, engineers began looking to revamp the airplane’s engine. The solution: turbofans. First appearing in the early 1960s, turbofans exhale cold air rearward, eliminating the mixing of the combustion chamber’s hot exhaust.
The empennage is the vertical and horizontal stabilizer and the tail of the airplane. It consists of multiple parts: the rudder, elevators, stabilator, and trim tab. The rudder is a movable piece that allows the plane to turn left or right when activated, and it is connected to the foot pedals in the cockpit of the airplane. The elevator is like the rudder in that it moves the aircraft up or down to make the nose of the airplane move in the appropriate direction. The stabilator is a large piece of material that doubles as a trim tab. The trim tab is a rectangular shaped piece of equipment on the trailing edge of the horizontal stabilizer. The tabs are used to be moved gradually by the pilot to make the aircraft easier to handle.
Thousands of campgrounds are scattered across California and nestled among its 18 national forests. From bare-bones hideaways to luxurious glamping getaways, it’s hard to pick just one spot to visit. The landscape—from redwoods forests to deserts and mountaintops to coastal vistas—offers something for everyone. California’s campgrounds are truly a national treasure, so take a look at some of the top spots to go camping in paradise:
The redwoods of Northern California are ancient—some are over 2,000 years old—and are the tallest trees in the world. A section of the park is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site, so visitors can find campsites that allow them to enjoy nature in one of the most breathtaking spots on earth. With three campgrounds in the forest and one overlooking the Pacific Coast at Gold’s Bluff Beach, Redwood National & State Parks offer unforgettable views and attractions.
Spanning Northern to Central California, Big Sur is a must-see destination for any fan of the great outdoors. The home of three Native American tribes (The Ohlone, Esselen, and Salinan), much of the land here is undeveloped, so hikers have the perfect opportunity to enjoy sensational trails and views of the mountains and the coast. Big Sur draws close to three million visitors per year and provides an unparalleled camping experience from its sandy beaches to its rugged coastline.
Covering over 1,100 miles of terrain, Yosemite is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Featuring waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, and tons of wilderness, Yosemite should not be missed. The park is quite popular, with nearly four million visitors per year, and it has also been ranked as one of the top-five national parks for camping. Throughout the park, there are lakes, ponds, hiking trails, and 13 campgrounds that feature tents, RVs, and horse camping.
Further down the coast, you will find Santa Barbara County. Visitors can choose from five different beachfront camping sites, or, if they’d prefer, go glamping instead. The El Capitan Canyon Resort, for example, offers luxurious glamping tents and fully-equipped cabins that come with maid service. There are also unique campground features, such as the ability to rent an iconic airstream camper.
It’s harder to find a more exciting hobby than flying. Regardless of whether you’re taking your first flight or going up for the millionth time, nothing beats the rush of watching the world shrink beneath you as you climb into the clouds. Take it from me: For years, I’ve flown fixed-wing aircraft, and I wouldn’t trade my time in the skies for anything. But before you hop in the pilot’s seat, you’ll first need to earn your pilot’s license. This process isn’t too complicated, but it does require patience, focus, and dedication.
To qualify for a pilot’s license, you must be at least 17 years old, and you must also be able to speak, read, and write perfectly in English (English, interestingly, is the international language pilots and air traffic controllers around the world use to communicate with each other). There is also a medical component in order to be qualify for your pilot’s license that requires you to be in good health and pass a physical examination.
This is one of the easier items to check off the list. You can obtain this by either submitting an application to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards District Office or to an FAA examiner. Conveniently, when you receive your aviation medical certificate, the document you receive at that time doubles as both a student pilot certificate as well as a confirmation of medical fitness, so you can handle two birds with one stone then.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) website includes a database of licensed flight schools if you need to find one. Make sure that you’re comfortable with both the school and the instructor before committing. This stage of the process is where you’ll actually fly; you’ll also need to pay for this time, however, and flight school can cost around $5,000 throughout the learning and licensing process depending on your location. I went to a very affordable flight school at Brown Field in San Diego, California.
Note that some flight schools will require you to take the FAA written exam before they let you into the cockpit, but either way, you’ll need to pass it to earn your pilot’s license. It consists of 60 multiple choice questions, and by the time the two-and-a-half hour test period is over, you need to answer at least 70% correctly in order to make the grade. The test comes with a $70 fee.
Administered by an FAA examiner, the checkride is the last obstacle standing between you and your pilot’s license. It typically lasts between one and two hours with the examiner joining you as a passenger and asking you to perform certain maneuvers and quizzing you on practical test standards (PTS). If you pass—congratulations! You’ll have to file some paperwork with the examiner, but you’ll have earned your pilot’s license.