Navigation History Reveals A Highly Human Touch

Here's How A Subspecialty Developed To Guide Aircraft


Photo Tom Foster

Flying with a C-130 squadron in Alaska included regular routes in the high Arctic, often between Thule, Greenland, and Anchorage.

Once there were navigators. Not a touchscreen gizmo made by Garmin or the weirdly mutated creatures that got hyped up on drugs to guide the Spacing Guild ships in Frank Hebert's novel "Dune."

Actual human beings once practiced their art using "dead reckoning" and celestial navigation. In the 1930s a subspecialty evolved to guide aircraft over the earth.

Charles Lindbergh found his way across the Atlantic using the compass and clock technique very much like that taught to beginning flying students. No check points, though. He did well and crossed the Irish coast about 3 miles from where he...

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