Contrails From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 1842 posts, RR: 0 Posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 2239 times:
When I was a kid I monitored what I presumed to be a USAF excercise on my shortwave radio (I've forgotten how I came to that conclusion, but there must have been some evidence to support it). The pilots kept referring to their "alpha gadgets", each asking the other if it was on, one repeating "turn on your alpha gadget".
Anyone have an idea what they could have been referring to? This has intrigued me ever since that cold winter night long ago.
Lucifer From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 106 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 2219 times:
Alpha refers to angle of attack. Aircraft can either fly by reference to a speed and the vertical descent rate, or as is more useful on delta-winged aircraft refer to and angle of attack gauge or alpha gauge. This is the angle at which the mean chord of the wing is offset from the airflow, and maintaining a fixed alpha assists in maintaining a set descent path eg on final approach.
Otherwise it is a code for something you shouldn't know about.