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Old 09-26-2003, 01:19 PM
Fish Cheer Fish Cheer is offline
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Rear-view mirrors on airplanes?

Are there any? Or some peepholes?

Let's say some object (a winged robot monkey butler, for example) hits the "tailfin" of a 747 and the pilot wants to have a look at the dent - is this possible while they are in the air?
Old 09-26-2003, 01:58 PM
St_Ides St_Ides is offline
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In my years of being an aviation buff (and now a pilot)I've only seen one example of them.

Many WW2 aircraft had mirrors so that the pilot could check his tail easier, but these were mounted inside the cockpit (some were also like a backwards-looking periscope). I think some modern fighters have it too (I was looking at a CF-18 this morning, I should have looked)

But on most aircraft, there's no need, because the pilot can see around the entire aircraft. If the pilot cannot, a mirror sticking out in to the slipstream would probably cause some hefty parasite drag, so there was probably a trade-off between not being able to see the tail, and the loss of fuel efficiency. Effieciency won out, because the odds of damage to the tail are minimal.
Old 09-26-2003, 02:37 PM
Bookkeeper Bookkeeper is offline
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Not on a 747. Military combat aircraft such as fighters have rear-view mirrors and bubble canopies to give them as much opportunity as possible to see threats (enemy aircraft, missles, etc.) coming at them from behind, but most aircraft don't.

Civil aircraft rarely get anywhere near each other in most cases, so do not need mirrors to check for traffic like cars do, and there is little or no need to see external damage, as it happens very rarely and, when it does, looking at the damage is unlikely to be of any benefit.

Having said this, I seem to recall that gliders sometimes have rear-view mirrors, but, if true, I don't know what they are used for. IANAPOAT (I Am Not a Pilot or Airframe Technician) and YMMV.
Old 09-26-2003, 02:42 PM
Padeye Padeye is offline
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I've only seen them on fighter aircraft. The F14 has internal rear view mirrors for both seats. The RIO has a single at the top and the pilot has three mounted around the front edge of the canpy frame.
Old 09-26-2003, 03:59 PM
GaryM GaryM is offline
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F-4 has mirrors, as do F-15 aircraft.
Old 09-26-2003, 04:39 PM
Bookkeeper Bookkeeper is offline
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Most WW2 fighters had one, sometimes mounted outside (especially if retrofitted to early fighters), modern fighters usually have several (2-3 for the pilot and 1 or more for the back-seater, if present, in all the ones I have seen). These are wider than typical car mirrors, and curved to follow the inside curve of the canopy frame. The arc of coverage is 120-180 degrees.
Old 09-26-2003, 04:48 PM
fortytwo fortytwo is offline
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I think I can remember talk about fitting cameras to some commercial aircraft a few years ago. It was in response to some incident (possibly damage to the aircraft structure).
I'm not in the business any more so I don't know if it ever came to pass. Most aircraft have quite limited views from the flight deck of the outside surfaces.Usually only the leading edges of the wing can be seen (and engine intakes if they are wing mounted). A better view of the wings and control surfaces can be seen from the cabin of course.
The Lockheed 1011 had a hatch to the top of the fuselage, but of course in flight this can't be opened! So you wouldn't be able to peak out at the fin/tailplane.

Old 09-26-2003, 05:22 PM
KP KP is offline
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Some Cessnas (predictably, the ones with a "rear windscreen" on the passenger area, like the 150- and 170-series) have dash mounted mirrors. I never used them for much more than keeping by take-off climb lined up nicely with the runway in crosswinds when I was first learning. Of course, that was over 20 years ago, but the last time I thought to look, the 150-, 170-, etc. were a big chunk of the Single Engine Lights on the tarmac, possibly a majority at many airports.
Old 09-26-2003, 05:52 PM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party is offline
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RAF Jaguars had them fitted during the first Gulf War (or at least some did). I've seen a picture from inside a cockpit of one clearly showing rear view mirrors on the outside like you'd find on a car.
Old 09-26-2003, 09:26 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
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Some Cessnas (predictably, the ones with a "rear windscreen" on the passenger area, like the 150- and 170-series) have dash mounted mirrors.
FWIW, I learned to fly in dad's Cessna 172. (There's a photo of it on my page, if anyone is interested.) No rear-view mirror. It wasn't until about 1964 or so (I'd have to look up exactly when) that 172s got a rear window. I remember looking out the rear window to check my alighnment on climb-out. Once during training, on my "long cross-country", I was landing at an uncontrolled airport when I looked behind me and saw a retractable turning in and coming up fast. But generally it's not all that important to look behind you in a GA aircraft.


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