The Black Aeroplane Notes, Question & Answers, Meanings Class 10 English

Get here NCERT Notes & Solutions to Class 10 English Lesson “Two Stories about Flying” Part 2 ‘The Black Aeroplane’ by Frederick Forsyth. The solutions include answers to ‘The Black Aeroplane’ Textbook questions. Click here for ‘The First Flight’ Notes and Q&A.

Notes: The Black Aeroplane

Story Explanation

The story follows a pilot flying alone in his Dakota aeroplane from France to England late at night. He enjoys the serene atmosphere under a clear sky with the moon rising. He contacts Paris Control for navigation instructions and is advised to adjust his course westward. Everything seems routine until he encounters massive storm clouds ahead, blocking his path. Despite considering turning back to Paris, he decides to press forward in hopes of reaching home sooner.

As he flies into the storm, his navigation instruments fail due to electrical disturbances. The radio goes dead, leaving him completely isolated and disoriented in the darkness and turbulence of the storm. Just when hope seems lost, he spots another aeroplane nearby. This plane is unusual—it’s black and lacks any navigational lights. The pilot of this mysterious black aeroplane signals for him to follow.

Desperate and with fuel running critically low, the pilot decides to trust the stranger’s guidance. For half an hour, he follows the black aeroplane through the storm, the pilot occasionally adjusting their course to make it easier for him to stay on track. Eventually, they break through the storm clouds, revealing an airport runway below them. The black aeroplane leads him to safety, but upon landing, the mysterious aircraft is nowhere to be seen.

At the control tower, the pilot learns that no other planes were reported in the area according to radar. When he asks about the black aeroplane and its pilot, he’s met with disbelief—the control personnel insist that he was the only aircraft visible on their screens that night. The story concludes with the unanswered question of who or what guided him safely through the storm when all his instruments failed.

“The Black Aeroplane” leaves readers pondering the possibility of a supernatural or unexplained encounter, where a mysterious entity or force intervened to ensure the pilot’s safe return home.

Summary

The story follows a pilot flying a Dakota aeroplane from France to England late at night. He encounters storm clouds that block his path and cause his instruments to fail. Lost and running out of fuel, he sees a mysterious black aeroplane without lights, whose pilot gestures for him to follow. Trusting the stranger, he follows through the storm until they emerge near an airport runway, where the black aeroplane disappears. Upon landing, the pilot learns from air traffic control that no other planes were in the area according to radar. The story leaves the mystery unsolved: who was the pilot of the black aeroplane that guided him to safety?

Glossary: Word Meanings

Here are some important vocabulary words from “The Black Aeroplane” by Frederick Forsyth along with their definitions:

  1. Dakota aeroplane – A specific model of aircraft, the Dakota (also known as the Douglas DC-3), known for its reliability and versatility in various aviation roles.
  2. Navigation – The process of planning and controlling the course of a vehicle or vessel.
  3. Control tower: A building at an airport from which air traffic controllers direct aircraft movements on the ground and in the air.
  4. Compass – An instrument used for navigation and orientation that shows direction relative to the geographic cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).
  5. Radio – A communication device used for transmitting and receiving signals over long distances, crucial for pilots to communicate with air traffic control and other aircraft.
  6. Storm clouds – Large, dark clouds associated with severe weather conditions such as thunderstorms, often characterized by strong winds, heavy rain, lightning, and turbulence.
  7. Radar – A system that uses radio waves to detect the presence, location, and speed of objects such as aircraft, ships, and weather formations.
  8. Runway – A defined area on an airport prepared for the landing and take-off of aircraft.
  9. Control tower – A tall building at an airport from which air traffic controllers direct aircraft movements on the ground and in the air.
  10. Fuel tank: A container for holding fuel (in this case, aviation fuel) to power the aircraft’s engines.
  11. Navigation instruments: Devices and systems used for guiding an aircraft, including compasses, radios, and modern electronic navigation equipment.
  12. Oriented – Aligned or positioned relative to specified points of the compass or other directions.
  13. Desperate: Feeling or showing a sense of despair or hopelessness; in urgent need or lacking hope.
  14. Disoriented: Confused or unable to determine one’s position relative to surroundings, especially in terms of direction.
  15. Turbulence: Irregular air movements characterized by sudden, unpredictable changes in speed and direction.
  16. Serene: Calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
  17. Isolated: Alone or separated from others; without help or support.
  18. Gesturing: Making a motion, especially a hand or arm movement, to communicate or signal something.
  19. Unanswered: Not responded to or explained; without a solution or resolution.
  20. Pondering: Thinking deeply or considering carefully.
  21. Encounter: A meeting or experience, especially one that is unexpected or significant.
  22. Supernatural – Beyond what is natural or explainable by natural laws; often associated with phenomena or beings beyond scientific understanding.
  23. Intervened – To come between two things, often to prevent something from happening or to change the course of events.

Textbook Q&A: The Black Aeroplane

Thinking about the text

1. “I’ll take the risk.” What is the risk? Why does the narrator take it?

Ans. The risk is flying directly into a storm with no working instruments or radio. The narrator takes this risk because he wants to get home quickly to his family and have a good breakfast.

2. Describe the narrator’s experience as he flew the aeroplane into the storm.

Ans. Inside the storm, everything became dark, and the aeroplane was tossed around violently. The compass and other instruments stopped working, and the radio went silent. It was terrifying and disorienting for the narrator.

3. Why does the narrator say, “I landed and was not sorry to walk away from the old Dakota…”?

Ans. The narrator says this because he was relieved and grateful to have landed safely after such a harrowing experience in the storm. The old Dakota had served its purpose but had put him through a lot of danger.

4. What made the woman in the control centre look at the narrator strangely?

Ans. The woman looked at him strangely because he asked about the other pilot in the black aeroplane that guided him through the storm. She found it odd because there were no other planes visible on radar that night.

5. Who do you think helped the narrator to reach safely? Discuss this among yourselves and give reasons for your answer.

Ans. The story suggests that the narrator was guided safely by a mysterious black aeroplane and its pilot, who appeared in the storm when all his instruments failed. This could be interpreted as a supernatural or unexplained intervention, possibly an angel or a guardian spirit, ensuring his safe arrival despite the odds.

1. “I’ll take the risk.” What is the risk? Why does the narrator take it?

  • Ans. The risk the narrator takes is flying the Dakota aeroplane directly into a storm filled with large, dark clouds. The narrator takes this risk because turning back to Paris would mean missing out on being home with family and enjoying a good breakfast. He decides to face the storm hoping to reach his destination sooner despite the dangers.

2. Describe the narrator’s experience as he flew the aeroplane into the storm.

  • Ans. As the narrator flies into the storm, everything becomes dark inside the clouds. The aircraft shakes violently, making it hard to see anything outside. The compass and other instruments stop working, leaving the narrator completely disoriented. The radio also fails, cutting off communication with Paris Control. It’s a terrifying experience as the pilot struggles to maintain control without any means of knowing where he is or where he’s going.

3. Why does the narrator say, “I landed and was not sorry to walk away from the old Dakota…”?

  • Ans. The narrator says this because he’s relieved and grateful to have landed safely after a harrowing experience in the storm. The Dakota aeroplane, though dependable, had just carried him through a dangerous situation where he felt completely lost and at risk. Walking away from it signifies leaving behind the ordeal and being thankful for his survival.

4. What made the woman in the control centre look at the narrator strangely?

  • Ans. The woman in the control centre looked at the narrator strangely when he asked about the other pilot in the black aeroplane that guided him through the storm. She laughed because according to radar and their records, there were no other aircraft visible that night. This contrasted with the narrator’s experience of clearly seeing and following another aeroplane, which shouldn’t have been there according to the control centre’s information.

5. Who do you think helped the narrator to reach safely? Discuss this among yourselves and give reasons for your answer.

  • Ans. The story leaves this question open to interpretation. Some might think the narrator was helped by a supernatural force, a guardian angel, or an unexplained presence in the form of the black aeroplane and its pilot. The pilot’s timely appearance, guidance through the storm, and disappearance without a trace suggest something beyond ordinary explanations. The narrative invites readers to consider mystical or spiritual possibilities, enhancing the mystery of the story’s resolution.

Thinking about the Language

1. Try to guess the meanings of the word ‘black’ in the sentences given below. Check the meanings in the dictionary and find out whether you have guessed right. 

  • 1. Go and have a bath; your hands and face are absolutely black __________.
  • 2. The taxi-driver gave Ratan a black look as he crossed the road when the traffic light was green. __________
  • 3. The bombardment of Hiroshima is one of the blackest crimes against humanity. __________
  • 4. Very few people enjoy Harold Pinter’s black comedy. __________
  • 5. Sometimes shopkeepers store essential goods to create false scarcity and then sell these in black. __________
  • 6. Villagers had beaten the criminal black and blue. __________

Answer:

1. The meaning of ‘black’ in this sentence is that the face and hands are dark with dust and heat.
2. Here, ‘black’ refers to an angry look.
3. Here, ‘blackest’ refers to the darkest and cruellest crime against humanity.
4. Here, ‘black’ refers to dark and gloomy comedy.
5. The meaning of ‘black’ in this sentence is that the shopkeepers sell the described goods ‘at a higher price’.
6. Here, ‘black’ means that the criminal suffered excessive beating at the hands of the villagers.

2.Match the phrases given under Column A with their meanings given under Column B:

AB
1.Fly a flagMove quickly/suddenly
2.Fly into rageBe successful
3.Fly alongDisplay a flag on a long pole
4.Fly highEscape from a place
5.Fly the coopBecome suddenly very angry


Answer:

AB
1.Fly a flagDisplay a flag on a long pole
2.Fly into rageBecome suddenly very angry
3.Fly alongMove quickly/suddenly
4.Fly highBe successful
5.Fly the coopEscape from a place


3. We know that the word ‘fly’ (of birds/insects) means to move through air using wings. Tick the words which have the same or nearly the same meaning.

swoopflitpaddleflutter
ascendfloatrideskim
sinkdarthoverglide
descendsoarshootspring
stayfallsailflap

Answer:

The words which have the same or nearly the same meaning as ‘fly’ are as follows:

  swoop, flit, float, dart, soar, hover, sail skim, glide, flutter  
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