Do you know a zeppelin from a gyrocopter? Take the alternative air travel quiz!


Airplanes aren't the only types of aircraft in the sky. Some are gigantic, others, rather small. There are those that are practical; others are rather fanciful methods of conveyance. What do you know about alternative aircraft?

start quiz

Question 1 of 20

In a blimp, the helium gas is contained inside an "envelope," a polyester blend material. Many are made by a company that has used similar fabric to manufacture _______.

American flags
Olympic swimsuits

... The ILC Dover Corporation uses a strong, light and airtight fabric to make envelopes. They have manufactured spacesuits for NASA from comparable material.


Question 2 of 20

A new type of military blimp, the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEM), took its initial flight in August 2012 from the site of the _________.

battle at Valley Forge
first plane flight
Hindenburg disaster
U.S. Pentagon

... The LEM left from Lakehurst, N.J., where, in 1937, the Hindenburg was destroyed in a devastating fire. The new blimp, a hybrid that runs on either helium or engines, was developed by British and American engineers.


Question 3 of 20

Most blimps can stay aloft for ________.

about two hours
about 12 hours
about one full day
many days

... Depending upon the blimp size and the amount of gas inside, it's possible for a blimp to stay in the air for days at a time. Such longer trips are especially useful for extended scientific research and military operations.


Question 4 of 20

The main difference between paragliding and parasailing is ________.

parasailers lie in a horizontal position
parasailers often jump off mountains to get underway
parasailing involves being tethered to a vehicle
Parasailing and paragliding are the same thing.

... Both parasailing and paragliding involve parachutes, but parasailers are attached to a vehicle, often a boat. Paragliders are free-flying and must follow air currents.


Question 5 of 20

The major difference between the wings of traditional airplanes and gliders is that the wings _________.

are proportionally much longer for traditional airplanes
are proportionally much longer for gliders
are shaped differently for each type of aircraft

... Gliders have wings that are proportionally much longer and narrower. This increases their efficiency, because it reduces drag (the force that slows the glider down).


Question 6 of 20

The most common way for a glider to get off the ground is for it to be ________.

launched by a winch
pushed off a mountain or butte
propelled by a small engine that is then turned off
towed by a traditional plane

... "Aero-tows" are most often used to launch gliders. The glider is attached by a line to a plane, which pulls the smaller aircraft into the air. The pilot of the glider releases the line when the aircraft is high enough.


Question 7 of 20

To maintain a high enough speed to stay in the air, a glider _________.

angles down
angles up
periodically uses a motor
swings from side to side

... When a glider angles down, its speed increases. This provides the lift necessary to keep its weight aloft. This is measured by the "glide ratio": the relationship between the horizontal distance the glider travels and the distance it has to drop. In today's gliders, that's better than 60:1. If they start a mile up in the air (1.6 kilometers), then they can travel for 60 miles (97 kilometers).


Question 8 of 20

The design for hang gliders was derived from work done by __________.

the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
the Air Force

... In the late 1960s, a NASA engineer was studying kites and parachutes while contemplating the return trip of a spacecraft. This research was adapted to create a hang glider.


Question 9 of 20

A pilot maneuvers a hang glider by __________.

adjusting the rudder with his hand
adjusting the rudder with his feet
"flapping" the wings of the glider
shifting his weight

... The pilot, who hangs from a harness underneath the "wing," shifts his weight in the direction he wants to go. He can also pull back on a horizontal bar to angle down and push it forward to slow down.


Question 10 of 20

A hang glider is launched by ________.

a running pilot
a catapult-like device
being towed by a plane

... The pilot starts by running down a slope. When the air speed is high enough (around 20 mph, or 32 kph), the hang glider will start to lift of the ground, with the pilot attached.


Question 11 of 20

The development of the helicopter started with modifications to a _________.

ceiling fan
hummingbird's flight

... In the 18th century, inventors began experimenting with Chinese tops (sticks with feathers at one end) by attaching small rotors (blades) to them. By the early 20th century, Thomas Edison was able to combine a practical design with a powerful motor that could achieve vertical liftoff. A machine with a human passenger was years away, however.


Question 12 of 20

One type of helicopter movement is NOE flight, which is _______.

moving down

... Nap-of-the-Earth (NOE) flight is the helicopter's ability to be very low to the ground, either hovering or skimming across the earth's surface.


Question 13 of 20

Which of the following are helicopters regularly used for?

fighting fires
spraying crops
transporting mail
all of the above

... Helicopters do far more than just carry passengers for business or sightseeing. Other uses include police monitoring, fire fighting, pesticide spraying, medical evacuation, mail transportation and mosquito management.


Question 14 of 20

Which of the following maneuvers can a modern Zeppelin airship perform?

open windows mid-flight
roll over
spin on its axis
reach speeds over 100 mph (161 kph)

... Not only can a Zeppelin spin 360 degrees on its axis, but it can also hover in place like a helicopter.


Question 15 of 20

A gyrocopter resembles a small helicopter, but its rotors are _________.

at the sides of the aircraft
made from fabric stretched over a frame
much wider than a helicopter's
not connected to the motor

... The rotors of a gyrocopter are not turned by the motor but by moving air. If the engine should fail, the rotors can still function.


Question 16 of 20

In a hot-air balloon, the pilot controls horizontal movement by ________.

adjusting fans
changing vertical movement
lightening the load
running a small motor

... The horizontal movement of a hot-air balloon depends upon where the balloon is vertically. Horizontal movement is achieved by catching the wind, and winds differ in direction and speed at different altitudes.


Question 17 of 20

The first hot-air balloon passengers were _______.

carrier pigeons
farm animals

... Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier sent a sheep, duck and chicken into the air on Sept. 19, 1783, during an exhibition for the French king, Louis XVI.


Question 18 of 20

In 1987, business magnate Sir Richard Branson and balloon maker Per Lindstrand were the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a hot-air balloon. The balloon was revolutionary because it incorporated _________.

atomic batteries
biodiesel fuel
ethanol additives
solar energy

... The balloon used solar power to help heat the air. They carried less liquid propane and were, consequently, lighter.


Question 19 of 20

Branson and Lindstrand were also the first to cross the Pacific Ocean in a hot-air balloon, traveling from ________.

Australia to California
Japan to Canada
New Zealand to Mexico
Russia to Alaska

... From Jan. 15 to 17, 1991, Branson and Lindstrand traveled the 6,700 miles (10,782 kilometers) between Japan and arctic Canada.


Question 20 of 20

The famous fictional flying car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was created by the same author who wrote stories featuring _________.

Harriet the Spy
Jack Ryan
James Bond
Jason Bourne

... Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy novels, wrote the children's book "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in 1964 for his son, Caspar.


More Curiosity

The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth

The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth

When you're surrounded by cubicles and concrete, it's easy to forget that we live on a planet packed full of breathtaking natural beauty, so take a trip with us as we explore 10 of the very best the Earth has to offer.

Top 10 Memorable TV Moments Ever

Top 10 Memorable TV Moments Ever

From The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show to the latest breaking news, TV makes more memories than there are viewers. Here are 10 of the most talked-about broadcasts in television history.