When you fly, you may get a quick glance at the cockpit. But other than that, most of us blissfully don’t pay much attention to everything a pilot needs to know to fly that big, hollow tube 35,000 feet in the air.
I got a small, teeny tiny taste of the knowledge required when I got to fly in our friends Emilio and Stephan’s plane at the time, a Cirrus SR22 (they’ve since upgraded to a Twin Cessna 421C). It was a couple of years back, well before Covid, when we did a “long weekend” trip to Tennessee and North Carolina. Emilio’s the pilot of the family and he graciously explained a bunch of the things he had to do while flying (he was really a saint, answering all my questions).
Now take those small, private planes and multiply their size by…well, a whole lot. I mean, going from a 4-seater to, I dunno, one of Emirates’, British Airways or Lufthansa’s Airbus A380-800s, with a max capacity of 853? BIG difference. I mean, just the size alone…! Of course, many things will be similar, if not exactly the same (doing a thorough inspection of the plane before take-off, air traffic control is always the boss, etc.). But looking at the cockpit of a jet, and realizing that the person having to “drive” that thing has to know SO very much, is still kind of overwhelming. No wonder why it takes 1,500 hours of flying to become an airline pilot!
Changing gears for a second, Jacob (Jake) O’Neal is an artist. He grew up taking things apart, like lots of kids do; he liked to see how things tick. He worked in content marketing and design, which eventually morphed into working in infographics. And then eventually led to his current work on something he calls Animagraffs.
Have you ever wondered how hard disk drives work? Or handguns? How about what the inside of a fire engine looks like? Ever wonder how cryptocurrency works? O’Neal and his brother Wesley have made YouTube videos of all those things and more. As they say, ” We make 3D animated explainer videos about everything — presented in vivid visual detail without wasting a single moment on filler or fluff.” And in the process, they make very complicated things look a whole lot more understandable to common mortals like you and me.
Of course, there are 2 videos that I think would be near and dear to many travelers’ hearts: How A Jet Airliner Works and How An Airline Cockpit Works. Each one runs for a little less than 30 minutes.
How A Jet Engine Works
“Take a thorough look inside a modern jet passenger aircraft. Electronics, hydraulics, flight control surfaces, fuel system, water and waste, lighting, and more!”
0:00 Intro, 0:15 Airframe, 03:43 Windows, 04:17 Doors, 05:30 Wings and flight control surfaces, 06:30 Secondary flight control surfaces, 08:10 Landing gear, 10:16 Engines, 11:04 Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), 12:14 Fuel, 15:21 Air management, 16:20 Anti-ice and fog, 16:55 Electrical, 17:58 Hydraulics, 19:52 Water and waste, 21:19 Emergency systems, 23:46 Crew areas, 24:36 External lighting and antennas
How An Airliner Cockpit Works
“Learn about every button, switch, knob, screen, lever, and control device in a modern airliner cockpit.”
0:00 Intro, 01:04 Seating, 02:18 Sidestick, 02:56 Steering, 04:03 Rudder pedals, 04:48 Control panels, 07:17 Left inboard module, 09:25 Right inboard module, 11:04 Right outboard module, 12:35 Lights overhead module, 13:12 Glareshield, 14:14 Radio and control tuning section, 15:56 Flight control panel, 18:32 Main instrument panel, 19:05 Landing gear and brakes, 20:02 Center pedestal, 21:52 Audio control panel, 23:46 Trim control panel, 24:10 Reversion switch panel, 27:04 Throttle Quadrant Assembly, 28:47 Outtro
What I especially love about this guy’s videos is, besides everything he teaches, he’s not afraid to admit when he’s wrong. Obviously, some of the people who watch his videos are people in the field who know what they’re talking about. And when/if he’s made a mistake, they call him out on it and correct him. O’Neal has no qualms about acknowledging those corrections. In fact, in his “Cockpit” video, he even has a video called “Video Corrections.”
Anyway, if you like technical stuff and learning how things tick, especially in aviation, you’re going to love these videos. Enjoy!
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