Both a car and an airplane have engines that power them. Aircraft engines that power sport pilot-eligible aircraft can be two-stroke or four-stroke. It is common to find both air-cooled and liquid-cooled engines in lightweight sport planes. The car engine power is passed on to the transmission and then the wheels to pull it along the road. The plane's engine power is passed on to the propeller to pull it through the sky.

Flying Words

In a two-stroke engine, a piston travels up and down once in the chamber for each power cycle. In a four-stroke engine, the piston travels up and down twice in the chamber per power cycle. Two-stroke engines are simpler, less expensive, and less powerful than four-stroke engines.

Because you cannot pull over to a cloud if you have engine troubles, aircraft engines have redundant systems. For example, each cylinder has two spark plugs powered by two separate electrical systems (magnetos). You typically use both, but if one magneto system has a problem you simply switch to the other and continue to an airport to land safely.

When you're ready to go to work in the morning you probably start your car's engine, count to three and drive off, knowing that if there's a problem with the engine you can call AAA. However, there is no American Aircraft Association towing service, so you must take some time to check out your plane before flying off; it's called a preflight inspection. Of course, the two most important things you'll check are the fuel and the oil.