About a week after I returned from the Air Race Classic, I received a phone call from a woman who works for a textbook publishing firm. They are developing a laser-disc segment on higher mathematics - specifically sines, cosines, and triangulation. She had witnessed the start of the Air Race Classic and had asked to interview someone from the Cupertino/Sunnyvale area, so I was it. The idea is to use air racing as an example of the real life use of sines, cosines, and triangulation, to inspire students to learn.
I had never really thought about it in mathematical terms before, but pilots use these techniques all the time. For example, calculating the angle of crab to compensate for a crosswind on a long cross-country course (such as an air race) is normal, everyday fare for us. And trying to figure out when to climb over a mountain as opposed to going around it involves calculating the angle of climb, speed and distance to reach a certain point versus the angle of turn, time and distance to go around to that point. Believe it or not, these things involve sines, cosines, and triangulation.
I spent a morning with the textbook crew at RHV, getting lighting information and shots of my mechanic's maintenance hangar, to set up for future filming of me working on my plane (which I actually do on a regular basis).
So, I am delighted to participate in this project. The process included filming my flyby, landing, and takeoff at Modesto during the Palms to Pines Air Race in addition to filming Debby and myself as we calculated how to fly the leg from Modesto to Redding. We discussed how fast to climb, what altitude we needed based on the winds aloft reports we had (always trying to get the best tailwind), the angle of crab we needed also based on the winds aloft reports, how to get through the Sacramento airspace with minimal deviation from a straight course and at an acceptable altitude, at what point to start a descent for the flyby and what angle of descent we needed to maintain maximum sustainable groundspeed. We actually do all of these things when racing, and to some extent when just flying around for pleasure as well.
Then the film crew followed us out to the plane, watched as I did the preflight, and filmed us taking off for our restart flyby.
The next phase of the video is an interview with me at the maintenance hangar discussing topics related to mathematics and then a flight with me to see how I use GPS to navigate. GPS is the definition of triangulation, since that's the process it uses to figure out where you are in space.
Any of you with school age children may have the opportunity to see me demonstrating these mathematic principals. What a boon for aviation!