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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Introduction To Flying
History of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge



Table of Contents

Chapter 1, Introduction To Flying
Chapter 2, Aircraft Structure
Chapter 3, Principles of Flight
Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight
Chapter 5, Flight Controls
Chapter 6, Aircraft Systems
Chapter 7, Flight Instruments
Chapter 8, Flight Manuals and Other Documents
Chapter 9, Weight and Balance
Chapter 10, Aircraft Performance
Chapter 11, Weather Theory
Chapter 12, Aviation Weather Services
Chapter 13, Airport Operation
Chapter 14, Airspace
Chapter 15, Navigation
Chapter 16, Aeromedical Factors
Chapter 17, Aeronautical Decision Making




Aviation advocates continued to look for ways to use airplanes.
Airmail service was a popular idea, but the war prevented
the Postal Service from having access to airplanes. The War
Department and Postal Service reached an agreement in 1918.
The Army would use the mail service to train its pilots in
cross-country flying. The first airmail flight was conducted
on May 15, 1918, between New York and Washington, DC.
The flight was not considered spectacular; the pilot became
lost and landed at the wrong airfield. In August of 1918, the
United States Postal Service took control of the airmail routes
and brought the existing Army airmail pilots and their planes
into the program as postal employees.

Transcontinental Air Mail Route
Airmail routes continued to expand until the Transcontinental
Mail Route was inaugurated. [Figure 1-5] This route spanned
from San Francisco to New York for a total distance of
2,612 miles with 13 intermediate stops along the way.
[Figure 1-6]

The de Haviland DH-4 on the New York to San Francisco
Figure 1-5. The de Haviland DH-4 on the New York to San Francisco
inaugural route in 1921.

On May 20, 1926, Congress passed the Air Commerce Act,
which served as the cornerstone for aviation within the
United States. This legislation was supported by leaders in
the aviation industry who felt that the airplane could not
reach its full potential without assistance from the Federal
Government in improving safety.

The Air Commerce Act charged the Secretary of Commerce
with fostering air commerce, issuing and enforcing air traffic
rules, licensing pilots, certificating aircraft, establishing
airways, and operating and maintaining aids to air navigation.
The Department of Commerce created a new Aeronautics
Branch whose primary mission was to provide oversight for
the aviation industry. In addition, the Aeronautics Branch
took over the construction and operation of the nation's
system of lighted airways. The Postal Service, as part of the
Transcontinental Air Mail Route system, had initiated this

The transcontinental airmail route ran from New York to San Francisco.
Figure 1-6. The transcontinental airmail route ran from New York to
San Francisco. Intermediate stops were: 2) Bellefonte, 3) Cleveland,
4) Bryan, 5) Chicago, 6) Iowa City, 7) Omaha, 8) North Platte, 9)
Cheyenne, 10) Rawlins, 11) Rock Springs, 12) Salt Lake City, 13)
Elko, and 14) Reno.

The Department of Commerce made great advances
in aviation communications, as well as introducing radio
beacons as an effective means of navigation.

Built at intervals of approximately 10 miles, the standard
beacon tower was 51 feet high, topped with a powerful
rotating light. Below the rotating light, two course lights
pointed forward and back along the airway. The course lights
flashed a code to identify the beacon's number. The tower
usually stood in the center of a concrete arrow 70 feet long.
A generator shed, where required, stood at the "feather" end
of the arrow. [Figure 1-7]

Federal Certification of Pilots and Mechanics
The Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce
began pilot certification with the first license issued on
April 6, 1927. The recipient was the chief of the Aeronautics
Branch, William P. MacCracken, Jr. [Figure 1-8] (Orville
Wright, who was no longer an active flier, had declined the
honor.) MacCracken's license was the first issued to a pilot
by a civilian agency of the Federal Government. Some 3
months later, the Aeronautics Branch issued the first Federal
aircraft mechanic license.

Equally important for safety was the establishment of a system
of certification for aircraft. On March 29, 1927, the Aeronautics
Branch issued the first airworthiness type certificate to the
Buhl Airster CA-3, a three-place open biplane.

In 1934, to recognize the tremendous strides made in aviation
and to display the enhanced status within the department,