Flight Instruction – The Online Aviation Dictionary

March 28, 2010

This article is one in a series of articles about flight instruction in the United States. Here we examine one of the tools used in most flight instruction curriculums, the online aviation dictionary. The beneficiary of such an indispensable tool is the student pilot. But also flight instructors, and even aerospace engineers can realize benefits from a highly effective online dictionary for aviation.The web developer or webmaster, who has been assigned the task of creating an online aviation dictionary, should also find the following information useful. Here we characterize those elements which produce a highly effective online aviation dictionary, and we provide a list of good online aviation dictionaries along with a discussion about those dictionaries. So what are the components of a highly effective aviation dictionary?First and foremost, an aviation dictionary should be comprehensive, but not so comprehensive that the student pilot, and flight instructor, must look through many aerospace terms in order to find those terms which are fundamental to flight training. But also, it should be comprehensive enough for the aerospace engineering student, so that at least basic aerospace engineering terms can be found. Therefore, the dictionary for aviation should have a balance between typical terms found in a flight instruction program, and typical terms used by the aerospace engineer student.Many believe that a dictionary for aviation should have a search component incorporated. This really depends on the degree of comprehensiveness of the aviation dictionary. While a search component may be useful to some, many visitors prefer to see terms laid out on a page the same way they are found in a book. So the decision as to whether the dictionary should have a search component really comes down to how many terms are in the aviation dictionary. A dictionary which has a very large number of terms probably should have a search component.It should also be noted that both a dictionary for aviation and an aerospace dictionary should have many common terms. For example, those terms used to describe the force of lift produced by a wing will be found in both of these dictionaries. But mathematical terms, laws of physics, and theorems used to describe lift may only be found in an aerospace dictionary, or more specifically an aerospace encyclopedia. Another words, a detailed mathematical explanation of the force of lift is not needed in an aviation dictionary.Also, a dictionary for aviation is not an aviation encyclopedia. An encyclopedia provides a much longer description. Aviation terms can be found in Wikipedia, and a long description is given for these terms. For example the term wing lift in Wikipedia consists of an entire page of information, from a discussion of Newton’s Laws to the Kutta–Joukowski theorem. On the other hand, a dictionary for aviation should describe wing lift in one or two sentences. So a good aviation dictionary should provide a description in one to a few sentences.A few other points should made in terms of creating a good online dictionary for aviation. A good online aviation dictionary should consist of images, at least for the most commonly used terms. Also, an aviation dictionary can be part of a large aviation site, or exist on it’s own as a site. And, if it does not have a search engine, it should be easily navigated so that terms can be found quickly.Finally, and most importantly, the pages which make up a dictionary for aviation should not be loaded with unnecessary objects and scripts which result in slowing down the loading of the page. There is nothing more annoying to the visitor of any online dictionary then the slow loading of pages. Therefore, aviation dictionary pages should be light and basic, in order to allow for the quick look up of aviation terms. Word has it that in 2010, Google will be incorporating speed of page loading into their search algorithm. So keeping the page loading speed fast, may in the future help with the all important Google ranking.Why is this information about the aviation dictionary important? For the builder of a dictionary for aviation, it is important to structure the site so that it incorporates the elements presented here. For the student who is within a flight instruction program, it is important to select an aviation dictionary which also incorporates these elements.The following is a list of popular aviation dictionaries found online:alphadictionary.com/aviastar.org/dictionary_eng.htmldictionary.babylon.com/science/aviationaviationdictionary.org/datwiki.net/naa.edupilotportalusa.atspace.com/aviation_dictionary_a.htmlIn terms of the aviation dictionaries listed above, we found datwiki.net to be very comprehensive, with a fast search engine.  Also, babylon.com had a highly effective aviation dictionary which included a search engine, and language translation capability. AlphaDictionary.com was also highly effective because they incorporate a search of 1065 dictionaries at once when placing a term into their search component. After placement of a search term into their search engine, you get a list of dictionaries which carry the term. The draw back to this method is that it is more time consuming when looking for a definition. Aviastar.org provides a single page list of terms. Aviationdictionary.org was very comprehensive and had a fast search engine, and had more acronyms then the other online aviation dictionaries. Naa.edu had a good list type aviation dictionary without a search engine, and it appeared very comprehensive, although I think their site would appear more professional without the annoying music on their home page. Finally, pilotportalusa.atspace.com/aviation_dictionary_a.html was comprehensive, a list type, with many images.To conclude, the builder of an aviation dictionary should produce a high level of comprehensiveness, but not to comprehensive, allow for the incorporation of images on each page, make sure each page is easily navigated to all pages of the dictionary, and most importantly, make sure each page loads quickly even for those visitors who must use a slow connection to the Internet. An online aviation dictionary is an integral component of any flight instruction curriculum. Student pilots, flight instructors, aerospace engineers, or anyone who has an interest in aviation, all are beneficiaries of a useful aviation dictionary.