The very first flight test that the Wright's were required to pass called for a speed of at least 40 miles per hour. From that beginning all speed changes came either from increases in power or reductions in drag. Drag reduction contributed to 25% of the improvement. Power increases gave the other 75%. Practically all of the improvements were directed toward heat reduction or direction. The first Wright engine, built by Frank Taylor from scratch produced 16 horsepower when first started but when warm would only give 25% less of 12 horsepower.
The WWI Liberty engine and the WWII Rolls Royce Merlin engine were of the same
cubic displacement but there was over a 1800 h.p. increase in power in27
years.. Engines were constantly flying with improvements such as new alloys,
pressurized radiators, glycol coolants, sodium valves, stellite linings and
ceramic-platinum spark plugs. Most often engine improvements followed fuel
Oddly enough WWI inhibited aircraft engine development. The military surplus OX-5 and Hispano-Suiza engines were so inexpensive that for the better part of the 1920s they were the engines of choice to the detriment of new engine development. It was not until 1925 that an engine company was founded. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company dedicated itself to radial engines but survived by providing the army with improved Hisso types. The Navy liked the radial engines for its dirigibles so they contacted Wright Aeronautical about its projected radial engine. Other than the military there was little market for newly developed engines.
In 1926 P &W came up with an insect engine series beginning with the Wasp that met the needs of the Navy by comparing favorably with inline types. P & W shipped 1656, 425 h.p.Wasps in1927 mostly to the Navy but with a few to parts of the Boeing conglomerate. Newer larger engines came with many Wasp interchangeable parts but improved cooling fins, superchargers, carburetors and bearing materials.
About this time (1928) the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, founded in 1915 as a government agency came up with the NACA cowling for radial engines. The open enclosure added an effective 80+ horsepower to a 400 h.p. engine with improved cooling and no increase in fuel use or engine weight. By 1937 the same cowling developments proved that cowling an engine was more effective in cooling than leaving it exposed to the relative wind. NACA had a laboratory facility and airport at Langley Field, Hampton VA with wind tunnels for cowling, wing and propeller research. Early studies of DC-3 stall characteristics and de-icing were made at Langley.
The challenge of the float carburetor and supercharger were still to be conquered. P & W engines were used by the Navy, Lindbergh, Earhart, the racers of that era had airplanes built around the engine like the Gee Bee. In 1934 there were 34,000 licensed pilots.
Getting Ready for
Engine reliability grew from a handful of hours to over 1500 hours by 1929. B-29 engines were unable to acquire over a hundred hours between 1942 and 1944. By the end of the war they were getting 800 hours. Operational procedures, sodium filled valves, and more heat resistant metals made the difference.
The search for more efficient (read deadly) was ongoing and while England went from obsolete to obsolescent to the Avro Lancaster. A WWI Handley-Page weighed 14,500 pounds. The 1937 Vickers Wellington weighed 30,000, The Lancaster weighed 68,000 pounds and could carry a 22,000# bomb.
Special 'crash' airports were built so that heavy equipment could be immediately available to clear a runway. Heat systems were used to lift the fog so aircraft could land. Searchlights were used to point the way and mark a spot in the sky over an airport. The German sea-rescue system was far superior to that of the British.
More complex aircraft with more complex engines, electronics, instrumentation
and weapons required more highly trained maintenance personnel. This required
that those few who knew about such things would become teachers in schools.
Schools require buildings for classrooms as well as for living. Prior to
learning the equipment you must go to school to learn the basics. Then you go
to an intermediate school where you get to work and learn about older
Finally, the trainee gets to work under the supervision of an experienced craftsman. I went through such a process only the schooling was preceded by four months of military training. Of my three years of service, I spent a year and a half going to school.
The required pipeline to bring qualified technicians to a level where they are capable of maintaining a piece of radar equipment exceeds that required to train a pilot, navigator, or bombardier. There were always shortages in equipment for the aircraft and for the training of the technicians. There were always difficulties getting the right people to place where they were needed. I was one of a cadre of fifty MOS 718 radar bombardment technicians who waited for over three months to get shipped overseas. Then we went as though we were supposed to have been there yesterday. Yet, when we got there some of us were assigned duties that had nothing to do with our training. The training command is like a living 'slinkey' moving in devious ways but always in spurts.
It was not until 2003 that I learned the reason for the sudden spurt in my ‘slinky’
movement to war. A few days prior to my 13 day trip from Miami to Karagapur,
India a German guided bomb had sunk a British troop
ship off the coast of North Africa. The ship’s sinking resulted in the largest loss of life for any such event in WWII. Among the troops were numerous technicians required for B-29 maintenance. Their loss sent me on my way.
Special equipment had to be designed to work with every different aircraft. A
mechanic trained on wood and fabric had to be retrained to work with metal on
metal airplanes. Only the De Havilland Mosquito could still use a woodworker's
skill. The wide open fields defining an airport changed to extended runways
into the prevailing wind with hangars as required for various levels of
maintenance. At one point it became more economic not to repair. Scrap and
pick up a new one. Aircraft were built without the anticipation that spare
parts might be needed based upon wartime consumption rather than that of
peacetime. In August of the year 2000 Boeing company said that they could
supply new aircraft more cheaply than the Air Force Depots could rebuild
aircraft that had reached their service limits.
The so-called precision bombing never existed. The average bomb missed its target by miles. Gunners on bombers hit fighters more by chance than by aiming accuracy. The change to area bombing came more by chance recognition that inaccurate navigation and bombing inaccuracy made it obvious that only a few were capable of hitting a specific target. Pathfinders were used to mark targets for others to hit. Pictures were taken of the bombs during the drop as a check for accuracy.
Without the help of the U.S. the British never had a chance. They lacked the manpower to efficiently use their technology. They had not recovered from WWI.
Had I only known that my training in radar during WWII had placed me at the cutting edge of technology my life certainly would have been different. In learning electronics I discovered that I had a talent for teaching. I went into teaching, a dead end career. After WWII, had I but known what I knew, I would have continued my technical education and conceivably done much more with my life. I was given a jump-start and knew not what to do with it. At the end of the war I was technically skilled in what is now known as RNAV and DME.
By 1939 eight nations were in the process of developing some form of radar. The first radio echo detection was demonstrated in 1904 in the Netherlands. In 1922 the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory accidentally made a similar discovery but did not follow up. The triode vacuum tube amplifier was needed along with the cathode ray tube was needed to display radio pulse reception. Such a tube had existed since 1897 but lacked the phosphor and ray gun needed to focus and move the beam. By 1921 the oscilloscope existed that could do all that was needed. By 1929 television had been demonstrated. Radar existed before WWII but only in the form of patents. During the 1930s the greatest deficiency was a means of transmitting a radio pulse of sufficient power to reflect back over any distance. A 1938 test of an antiaircraft radar system made an unintentional save of its target by locating it on its way out to sea due to un-forecast winds.
Germany' premiere radar laboratory was supported by the navy. Philips developed a split-anode magnetron (a magnetron is used to power your microwave) that in 1934 was used as a pulse transmitter but the use of a cathode-ray tube was deemed to be to fragile for use on ships by some of Admiral Raeder's officers. However, other radar developments of this and other devices gave Germany a superior air-defense system and night fighting capability.
England in 1935 experimented with radio detection and ranging and took the
result to develop the Chain Home system of radar towers that was used to win
the Battle of Britain. The use of VHF radios along with the CH system put
Britain ahead of the world in creation of an air defense system. By comparison
the U.S. Navy did not adopt VHF until 1943.
Just when it appeared that England was about to lose the war, Winston Churchill on his own, sent a group of English scientists to the U.S. with the most advanced and secret of its weapons. Among these was the cavity magnetron that was capable of dramatically boosting centimeter wavelength transmission power by a 3000 multiple. I believe this is the first technological event ever to make such a dramatic jump. It was this tube that made practical airborne radar. Included weapons were the Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engine and the proximity artillery fuse. Admiral King so disliked the British that his refusal to utilize to the fullest extent their expertise in anti-submarine warfare cost the U.S. hundreds of ships and thousands of lives.
Two critical WWII battles were tipped in the allies' favor by radar other than the Battle of Britain they are the control of the Mediterranean and the winning of North Africa. Without these victories we would have lost the oil resources of the Near East.
In 1941 the British used a GEE bombing system that utilized parabolic radar signals to navigate within 50-yards of a bomb-release point. When the Germans jammed GEE it was replaced by OBOE. OBOE allowed German night fighters to home in on the bombers. OBOE was accurate within 300 yards but had to be replaced by GH, which functioned so well that it was only used for special operations. GH had 90% accuracy regardless of weather.
H2S (H2X) was the British microwave radar that used a rotating parabolic antenna powered by a centimeter magnetron trans/receiver. This was similar to the U.S. APQ 13. This type of radar gives a map-like picture of the ground and is very useful for navigation. However, H2S could be easily tracked from the ground and used to vector German night fighters. LORAN for navigational purposes did not function well in Europe because of German jamming. LORAN in the Pacific worked well and was never jammed by the Japanese. LORAN over water had a 2% system error. Which at the 1400 miles from the Marianas to Japan amounted to only 28 miles.
The Germans were homing on IFF, H2S and jamming everything else. However, they did not use chaff or window. These were types of aluminum foil strips that would turn radar screens into masses of snow instead of returns. The British had window and chaff but were reluctant to use it for fear the Germans would learn to use it as well.
It is sometimes difficult for Americans to admit indebtedness to the English. Especially, if you were in the CBI. Without the British, radar as we knew it in WWII and know it now, may have never existed. With radar and luck they won the Battle of Britain and changed the course of WWII and history.
In 1939, the British rediscovered a fundamental electronic circuit. This circuit was first created by an American, Albert W. Hull, in 1916, while trying to circumvent a patent suit over the vacuum tube. The British scientific group took Hull's idea and made a magnetron. Yes, the same as is today used in a microwave oven. They created a radar transmitter tube three thousand times more powerful and useful than any other called the cavity magnetron.
In 1940, Winston Churchill delivered on his own, without other official knowledge or prior approval, about a dozen key inventions and the cavity magnetron to the United States. The magnetron was and is the heart of radar. Our navy did not start to win in the Pacific or Atlantic until aided by magnetron radar. By 1943 a blending of British and American scientific capabilities resulted in the best of both being incorporated into the APQ 13 airborne radar set. This was the standard navigational and bombing radar set used in WWII.
American airborne radar training began by flying in Lockheed 'Hudson' bombers equipped with the British 521 radar set. It has two large yagi antennae on the wings, one to transmit and the other to receive. The oscilloscope had a straight line and hair like projections would lift off the line to note a target. The size of the target showed by the number and size of the reflections. I was once the operator when I was asked to identify a large target. I could not. How many people have seen a blimp on a radar set?
The essentials of the APQ 13 are the transmitter, receiver, synchronizer, rotating parabolic antenna and the PPI (plan position indicator) scope. The bombing capability was an add-on that left much to be desired.
Most of us are familiar with the echo like qualities of radar. A pulse is triggered from the magnetron heart of the transmitter and sent through a tuned wave-guide to the antenna about every 200 microseconds. During the wait period a very small portion of the signal might be returned as an echo. Aircraft constructed to evade radar do so by having angled construction that reflects any radar pulse in a direction other than back to the sending antenna.
At the same time a five inch phosphorescent PPI tube would have an electron beam moving around and out synchronously with the antenna and the transmitted pulse. A very small portion of the transmitted pulse would return as an echo to the antenna and receiver. The echo would be shown as a bright spot on the PPI scope. Water generally does not show an echo. Land or ships bordered by water show clearly. Cities are somewhat brighter than land. Considerable experience and skill are required to tune, focus and interpret what appeared on the early scopes. (Today, computers enhance the raw echo into TV clarity.) A second scope was in the Navigators position for his use.
The addition of bombing capability made it possible for a calculated bomb release line to be superimposed on the PPI. A sector scan could move the antenna quickly over just the forward direction. This would allow the radar operator to adjust a target tracking arc to follow a discernible target. The major problem was that most targets were not easily identified by the radar operator. The built in circular error (bombing error) of the equipment left much to be desired.
Some figures indicate that, on average, the bombs dropped in WWII only fell within five miles of intended target. The Air Force figures it was 3000 feet. In Desert Storm only 40 percent of the laser guided bombs hit their targets. The current accuracy of a GPS targeted bomb is something like 40 feet.
Navigation was a primary benefit of the APQ 13. It would show rivers, bays, islands, and such with considerable clarity. A comparison with a chart would greatly facilitate landfall recognition and assembly areas. The ability to navigate and locate by radar must have saved thousands of lives in WWII. Hardly a ship or airplane today moves without the presence and comfort of radar.
The APQ 13 was operationally rather complex. The transmitter and wave-guide to the antenna had to be maintained as a pressurized unit for proper operation. Its curvature and length functioned much as a tuned exhaust stack does. It was all too common to have this pressurization leak and fail at high altitudes. The parabolic antenna usually was mounted beneath the aircraft. It was contained in a plastic dome that could be lowered for best operation. The dome was held in place by many closely spaced screws. When the dome had to be removed reinstallation of these screws was very difficult. If one screw fell into the dome you had to take the dome off and start over. The power and waveform of the antenna could be checked by walking around a stopped antenna with a neon bulb. The APQ 13 had sufficient power to make the bulb light with radio frequency power for hundreds of feet from the antenna.
At the squadron level very little repair was done. Usually the components were removed and replaced with spares. Defective units were sent to the service squadrons for repair. The components of the APQ 13 were connected by numerous cables. No matter how carefully these cable connections might be made the effects of humidity, corrosion, and vibration could cause radar failure. In the event of failure the connections were the first thing checked. In an era of vacuum tubes the failure of any one of the thirty or forty tubes was more a probability than not on any given flight. A major difficulty seemed to lie in the inability to obtain a consistent regulated level of electrical power. This latter problem was made worse if operations were at high altitudes as they were in the China, Burma, India theater of war.
In the last few months of the war the APQ 13 had a new bombing computer attached and was then called the APQ 23. The APQ 23 had the same azimuth and tracking knobs as the Norden bomb sight. It was electronically synchronized to the bombsight and the bombardier could take over if visual bombing became possible. Digital read-outs were on the set, which would give ground speeds as well as time and distance to release point. In the days before digital computers all the resistors and taps from them were made trigonometrically. Such a wire wound trigonometric resistor was a work of art.
Lastly, the APQ 23 made possible offset bombing. A target, invisible to radar, could be preset as to distance and azimuth from a radar visible point. The bomb run would be made tracking a point easily seen on radar. The offset figures in the APQ 23 would drop the bombs on target. These abilities of the APQ 23 have arrived and are being used by aviation today in slightly different forms as distance measuring equipment (DME) and area navigation (RNAV).
I was a radar mechanic, Military Operation Specialty (MOS) 718, who came to
India by way of North Africa at the same time as Pat O'Brien's USO Troupe.
Fifty of us flew over at that time in small groups. We were divided among all
the B-29 groups and squadrons. In early 1945 the B-29s were moved from India
to Tinian and aircraft and electronic equipment performance improved
Continued by writings on LORAN and the Supersonic Trainer.
Engine knock was never effectively studied until high-speed cameras were able to photograph the ignition of fuels inside a cylinder. Full understanding of fuels was not achieved until the 1990's when even faster photographs became possible.
Knock and pre-ignition were once considered one and the same. In 1917 they were distinguished. Additives were used to control knock but costs and side effects were often prohibitive to future improvement. Finally in 1921 tetraethyl lead was found along with a bromide to give antiknock improvement without damage to the spark plugs. By 1930 octane rating had reached 87 at high power. To maintain a standard each fuel batch had to be blended and mixed according to the time of year and the source of the base oil. By 1934 100 octane fuel was being produced that gave a 30% increase in engine power with no increase in engine temperatures. This industrial prescience assured U.S. fuel dominance during WWII.
The fuels used by the Air Force over the objections of the War Department gave at least 20% more power, 6% more speed and 50% better climb speeds using existing engines. The Navy had made the transition by 1938. England was able, using U.S. 100 octane fuel, to get 1700 h.p. From the Merlin as opposed to 1000 h.p. previously. At the start of WWII the U.S. was producing 24 million gallons of 100-octane fuel per month. Using the military fuel, commercial airlines were able to cut takeoff distances 45%, gain a 20% increase in range. The economies of flying were greatly increased. It wasn't until 1942 that the distinction of octane change with changes of engine power became fully appreciated. The 80/87 and 100/130 numbers of today's fuels reflect this discovery. High-octane fuels allowed engines to be leaned for more economical operation and longer range with no increase in temperatures. In the South West Pacific, aviation great Charles A. Lindberg was able to train P-38 pilots to extend the range of their aircraft from 900 miles to 1800 miles. The sudden application of this improvement resulted in the death of Admiral Yamamoto and effective end of the Japanese expansion. Water injection allowed even more power over the short term by allowing cooler high-power operation..
Aircraft Got Their Red and Green Running Lights.
I have developed a possible sequence for the development of red and green running lights on ships and aircraft. I would like to make the following case, derived from a variety of sources, for what I believe happened. All of the basic information is available in common reference books but I can't find any record equating this knowledge to the final conclusion.
Before the invention or application of a rudder to ships, they were steered by large boards near the stern. These boards could be on one or even on both sides of the stern. Gradually the boards, called steerboards, came to be on just the right side. This eventually led to the right side being called the starboard. The location of this steerboard on the right meant that the captain maintained a command proximity to this right stern position. The captain's cabin and Quarter Deck position is on the right side of ships to this day. (The reason the captain of an aircraft is on the left is a postscript)
To protect the steerboard, the placing of such a sailing ship beside a wharf meant that the left side of the ship would be the side of choice. From the left side another board was used for loading and unloading the ship. This loading board eventually led to the left side of the ship being known as the larboard side. The vocal distinction between starboard and larboard in a high wind could easily lead to misinterpretation.
We must now move to the 15th Century. During this period England and France were having one of their periodic disagreements. The English decided to boycott French products including wine. Seeking another source of wine the English turned to Portugal. Portugal produced a red wine, which when fortified (made more alcoholic), was suitable to the English taste. A trade agreement resulted between England and Portugal with English cloth being exchanged for Portuguese wine.
The major port used for shipping wine out of Portugal at that time was known as O Porto. O Porto is located in northwest Portugal and is now known as Porto. The increased trade into this port could have precipitated the need that "starboard" and "larboard" be modified. The left docking and loading side of the wine trade ships at O Porto would have made the change to the term "port" both possible, practical, and logical.
The combination of the Latin porto (to carry), the practicality of docking to the left side, and need for a more distinctive term for the left side of a ship leads me still further. It is not very difficult to see how the word port became associated with the red of Portuguese wine. There should be little doubt that the ships of the wine trade would acquire a characteristic red color on the left side. The combination of the left side of the ship being the side nearest the port or loading side, the port of O Porto, and the red wine lead me to suggest such was the process. Red along with the word port became the accepted identification for the left side of a ship. The selection of green lights for the right side follows more directly. I suggest that the red and green of the Portuguese flag have become the running lights of the world. Thus, even in its decline as a seafaring nation, Portugal still shows its colors more than any other nation.
Why Airplane Pilots Sit on the Left Side
Behind many of the things we do in flying lies a long history. This often dates well before flying. Have you ever wondered why left patterns are standard? Before airplanes and cars, men rode horses. Most people are right handed. As a matter of good practice weapons were carried on the right side and kept available to the right hand. Since it was always desirable to keep the right hand and weapon available, horses were mounted from the left side. using the left hand for lift by pulling on the saddle horn. To keep the right hand free from attack on the narrow roads of England they rode on the left side of the track. This forced an attacker to cross an open space. This also kept the right hand available for attack or defense against oncoming travelers. I have not yet found the logic for why the Americans drive on the right side.
An English reader suggests the following:
For America, a much younger country, the main impetus was the stagecoach. Same deal; right handed, but, instead of a sword, you have a shotgun. If you're right handed, the natural aiming area is to your left; i.e., you want the attacker to come across empty space to your left - thus, right hand side of the road.
By happenstance, the military cavalry was the least dogmatic of the services in all countries. When the military adopted the airplane, the cavalry was the natural choice for pilot selection. The cavalry looked upon the airplane as another mode of transportation like the horse. Best to be mounted from the left as by habit. Early cavalrymen nee' pilots were even required to wear spurs. Did I really say the least dogmatic of the services?
You will need to search old film very hard to see an old time aircraft being mounted from the right by the pilot. I have never seen such. In fact, most passengers mounted from the left. When aircraft were designed for side by side seating, the pilot in command (captain) sat on the left. The preferred pattern direction was left because that gave the pilot better visibility. By convention the standard traffic pattern is now to the left.
Different Miles and How They Came to Be
Under the Roman Empire, Rome became the center of the western world. All roads led to Rome and all distances were measured from Rome. The distances were based upon one thousand Roman paces of the Roman soldier. A Roman pace is equal to two of our steps and very near 64 inches. The Latin for thousand is mille from which we derived the word mile. Each Roman road had occasional small obelisk statues placed to indicate the distance from Rome much as Mexico today does from Mexico City. Hence, statute miles.
The first paths for ships were called Porotan Charts. These were lines drawn across the Mediterranean between the coastal ports. Where many of these lines crossed the mapmakers would draw wind roses. The wind rose initially varied but settled on the eight points. The predecessor to the compass rose and our eight-wind direction terms.
Thales of Miletus (640-546 BC) made a projection (use of shadows) of the region where he lived. Hipparchus in the 2nd century B.C had used sterographic (showing heights) and orthographic projections (perspective). Eratosthenes in 3rd century BC calculated the size of the earth circumference to be 24,000 miles. He developed a 16 point wind rose and use of `degree". He also wrote a description of the known world.
Ptolemy, a 2nd century Greek, made a world map and made a world size error when he calculated size of world's circumference to be only 18,000 miles. Eratosthenes' calculations had been lost to the western world with the destruction of the libraries of Egypt. Copies of scrolls from Eratosthenes were discovered in Constantinople by Polish researchers but it was over a hundred years before application was applied to nautical navigation. This corrected size of the world was drawn on navigational charts in 1669 by Jean Picard. No wonder that Columbus in 1492 had thought that he had reached India.
Ptolemy used the first conic projection plane map with the top as north. This made possible drawing of rhumb (one direction) lines from point to point on the globe. He devised the 60 minute and 60 second divisions of the 360 degrees in a circle. A mile at sea, on this world of Ptolemy, was essentially equal to a mile on the land. The length of a statute mile was 1000 (mille, from the Latin) Roman paces. A Roman pace is two of our steps.
A 1466 Chart of Nicolaus Germanus divided the degree into 60 equal spaces called miles. This was based upon an earth of 18,000 mile circumference and gave us a nautical mile the same length as a Roman statute mile. Other cartographers including Hipparchus and Mercator gave us a world with an overlying grid with numerical markings of longitude and latitude. Gerardus Mercator (Gerhard Kremer), Flemish, in 1569 drew world globe map with 180 degrees E/W longitude 0 to 90 N/S latitude. He made errors which were corrected by Edward Wright who published the computations required as "Meridional Parts" and made this knowledge universal. In combination, we now had a world which could be mapped in degrees of longitude and latitude. Each degree of longitude had divisions of 60 miles equal to a statute mile and each mile was again divided into 60 units called minutes and each minute was again divided into 60 units called seconds.
This was the kind of map and scale used by Columbus. The navigators of his time had not the timing device to make possible the exact determination of longitude. The best 15th Century data available to Columbus came from Ptolemy. The error by Ptolemy directly resulted in Columbus' declaring that he had reached and was exploring India. Columbus thought he had sailed through enough degrees of longitude to have reached India. He may well have, had the world been 18,000 statute miles in circumference.
When the world was computed to be 24,000 statute miles in circumference all the degrees and their divisions were longer and did not conform. More accurate computation of the world's circumference kept changing and finally came to 24,902 statute miles. The circumference of the earth has always been measured as 21,600 nautical miles (360 degrees X 60 nautical miles per degree). However, the individual nautical mile has ballooned by nearly a third through this recalculation of the earth's size. For many of the same reasons the U. S. has failed to convert to metric, later cartographers decided to use statute miles for land and the expanded nautical mile at sea.
Now we can see the background for the difference between nautical and statute miles and Columbus' reasoning. We have Columbus sailing around an earth at least 1/3 larger than he was led to believe. Based on available knowledge Columbus was quite justified to assume that he had actually reached and explored India.
For the navigator, it is very important that distance only be measured along the lines of longitude which has evenly spaced tick marks throughout. The elongated orange peel appearance of the region between lines of longitude means that various latitude lines will have tick marks at differing intervals although always 60 ticks per degree. Only at the Equator do the tick marks correspond to the size of those along the lines of longitude.
Johann Henrich Lambert from Alsace devised the lambert conformal conic projection in which the line you draw is the way you go. This is the charting used on aircraft. As with any flat map of a round surface it has areas of inaccuracy which increase in one direction or another. Errors exist along the top, bottom, and center parts of such a map.
A sphere cut by a plane always makes a circle. The sectional chart used in flying is drawn from such a plane. The globe for a specific chart area is given a cone for a hat. Then a plane is cut through the cone and the globe at right angles to the vertical axis of the cone. The lines of latitude and longitude are projected onto the plane as are the lines making the map. Sectionals are most inaccurate (stretched) in the six inches at the top and bottom. The center ten inches of the sectional for 5 inches up to five inches down from center is somewhat contracted in size.
What is the length of a nautical mile used on a sectional chart? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the standard length they use is 1,852 meters (6,076 feet). The NOAA is the government office that prints aviation and marine navigational charts.
It's About Time
The next major step in aviation measurement came from the Greeks about 2500 years ago. The Greeks sought rules for the way number-ideas seemed to work. They applied a reasoning process to build on known facts to reach a conclusion. They knew it as deduction. Some flyers call it, albeit incorrectly, the origin of the term Dead Reckoning. Actually it is a deductive system of navigation. The first ship's time was kept with sand glass and the speed was determined by counting oar strokes during a sand glass sequence. Distance over water could be deduced by the number of strokes in a given time period.
A sailing ship's speed over a nautical a mile was, historically, measured by means of a knotted (knots) rope tied to a log. A sand filled timing glass would be used to measure the time from leaving the log dead (much as a dead man might appear) in the water (dead reckoning) and the number of evenly spaced knots passed along the rope. All of this would be recorded in the logbook.
I contend that dead reckoning is a not a corruption of deduced reckoning, the term derived from the navigational practice of starting from a point (Buoy) that was dead in the water. From this point the direction and time would be used to deduce location along the route as it crossed longitudinal lines.
Since the chronometer was yet to be invented, sailors had no way to determine longitude except by this dead reckoning. Within crude limits, speed and compass indications could be used to determine estimated distance and estimated longitude. Magellan in 1519 had access to charts, globe, theodolites, quadrants, compasses, magnetic needles, hour glasses, and timepieces. He was unable to determine exact longitude.
By the 18th Century a chronometer (first weighed over 36 pounds) was used to get longitude. A chronometer differs from a clock or watch because it has a temperature adjustment for greater accuracy. Captain Cook in 1768 had three such clocks for his voyage. In 1779 he sailed with 4 chronometers and a nautical almanac which enabled him to determine longitude. The very first effort to make a calculator was financed by the British to make the making of the nautical almanac easier. The original design was completed in 1991 and found to work accurately. Interesting to speculate where the world would be had it been completed in the 1700s.
This ability was treated as a military secret by England to the extent that Mr. Harrison (inventor) was a very old man before his family was rewarded by the English government. This single invention enabled England to become the master of the world seas for several hundred years. Knowledge is power. If you have not yet read a small pocketbook "Longitude", you should.
The lines than extend from pole to pole are called meridians the zero-meridian is known as the prime meridian. This place of Greenwich is where time begins the day and the time we call Zulu in aviation. There is a small book about the creation of the chronometer and the resulting world domination by England of the maritime world. The pocketbook version, titled 'Longitude', costs less than $12 and tells of how John Harrison, prior to 1759 made wooden time pieces capable of keeping time within seconds until creating the metal H4.
In America, Eli Terry took the H4 many steps farther by making machinery capable of making duplicates of the most intricate gears and parts of clocks all interchangeable. Mass production thus began with watches and not guns as often taught in schools. Eli Terry and not Eli Whitney was the father of the American industrial revolution. Surprising how much of the U.S. History I used to teach school children, while using State textbooks, was totally in error.
In 1884, 25 nations sent delegates to a proceeding where Greenwich was selected as the prime meridian from which 24 15-degree time zones were created. Four of these time zones all alphabetically 'numbered' cover the United States. Zulu was the last time zone that ended at Greenwich. The 180th meridian became the international dateline which rather erratically ziggs around some islands and zaggs around others. For over a hundred years we functioned with Greenwich Mean Time. This was not to last.
The 10 second error of H4 changed with the use of piezoelectric time for the quartz-crystal watch in the 1960s. was quickly displaced by the use of cesium-33 atoms which when energized by microwaves would give time with an error of one second over 1.4 million years. Time now became known as Universal Coordinated Time. A second consisted of 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a cesium atom. Finally a clock with one second errors in 1.4 million years. Still not good enough? Gravity causes an error that is soon to be eliminated by a space clock in 2004 with accuracy exceeding the present goal achieved of one-second error in 313 million years. New time measures have made possible the GPS system started in 1994 and now used for numerous forms of super accurate navigation.
The atom of the cesium atom (#55 of the periodic table) when heated by microwaves radiates at 9,192,631,7700 Hertz. In 1967 the 13th General Assembly on Weights and Measures decided to use this frequency to define the second as a unit of time. By definition a second is the time it takes light from an irradiated cesium atom to cycle 9 billion-plus times. Thus the most accurate of atomic clocks divide the second into 9,192,631,770 cycles for an error of only one second every 1,400,000 years. These clocks are aboard the satellites of the global Position System.
--First charts were pilot designed based upon landmarks selected for personal use.
--1922 U.S. Army made a aeronautical map for use of the military
--Civilians bootlegged copies of the military maps.
--By 1925 airport beacons existed at some airports.
--During 1926 aeronautical beacons were placed and along common flight routes for over 2000 miles.
--In 1927 the Coast and Geodetic Survey published map No. 102, Dallas to Oklahoma City as a strip map.
--Strip maps were on rollers. Chicago had six overlapping strip maps.
--The first area charts were available in 1930 in four colors. They covered the U.S. without duplication.
--The first sectional charts of 1930 were direct ancestors of those used today in eight colors.
--During WWII sectionals began to include radio frequencies and locations. WACs appeared.
--Instrument approach and landing charts came into being in 1942.
--Radio facility charts came in 1943.
--In the 1950s high altitude charts were used to supplement the sectional and WACs low level coverage.
--In 1960 there were 87 VFR sectional Charts for the U.S. Eight charts would cover a 1000-mile flight.
--For a brief time after 1961 there was an intermediate level chart.
--In the late 1960s the charts were printed back to back as now in use.
--By 1970 there were 37 VFR Sectionals printed in eight colors.
--Present day Sectionals are computer drawn.
Revolutions per minute
First counted by paddle wheel ship captains. _______________________________________________________________________
Parachute: From the French to guard against a fall.
Way to Go
The pole star was recognized by the ancients as being a constant reference for determining direction. The Norsemen in the 11th century used a needle of magnetic iron inserted in a straw and floated on water to point to the pole star. Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt invented the pivoted floating compass with lubber line and sight for bearing. The modern compass is little more than one hundred years old..
The compass card, due to wind rose origins is older than the magnetic needle. Names of the cardinal compass points are from the ancient Nordic terms for wind direction. Variation was understood by 1800 as a problem. Edmond Halley at end of 17th century mapped lines of variation and drew isogonic lines (lines of variation) on his maps. George Graham showed that variation was subject to diurnal (seasonal) changes with variation being less in winter.
Deviation was written about in 1627 by John Smith as a problem encountered through use of metal nails in his compass box. Captain. Matthew Flinders in 1.801-2 found way to correct by use of "Flinder's Bars as did Lord Kelvin through use of Kelvin spheres. Placement of soft iron spheres at sides of compass could be used to correct deviation.
As pilots we are, generally unaware and/or uneducated, as to the debt that aviation owes to those scientists and mathematicians who preceded the Wright brothers. The mathematics of aviation begins with the prehistoric use of our hands which gave us the span as in wingspan.
Consider the beginning the numbering system. The Babylonians, over 6000 years ago, added the use of symbols, `zero', and place value to make mathematics possible. From the Babylonians we acquired the Base 60 numerical system used in telling time. This base sixty is also part of our navigational system. Ever notice how easy it is to do fractions in Base 60.
It is interesting to note that the sum-of-the-digits for every 45-degrees all around the compass rose is the same. This is true no matter where we start on the rose.
360 = 9; 270 = 9; 090 = 9; 135 = 9
The Egyptians, not much later, devised a way of dividing the year into twelve
months even including the leap year. They followed up with land measuring
systems not unlike those used in modern map making.
The Greeks developed axioms into theorems and proofs. They used abstractions to illustrate the reality of the world. Such abstractions pilots now call sectionals, charts, or maps. The Greek, Thales, demonstrated five propositions which have become part of geometry or earth measurement.
Euclid also collected all the math ideas he could such as all right angles
are equal, a straight line can be drawn from one point to another point, and the
sum of the angles in a triangle equal 180 degrees. Archimedes was a
mathematician as well as a creative engineer. He used a screw shape in tube to
move water. The movement of a propeller through the air is such a screw. Early
propellers were called air screws. His use of pulleys and levers have
applications in aircraft control systems. Pythagoras with his followers
discovered the roundness of the earth, the numerical relationships of
frequencies, and the Pythagorean Theorem whose hypotenuse we fly during climbs
WWII navigation with sextant, chronometer, almanac, all of which made possible finding a line of position using the celestial method of Marcq St.-Hilaire. Radio navigation uses this method of a line of position with intersecting lines for a given position on the line. Only a timing device is required be it a watch or DME.
THE LORAN SYSTEM
(I instructed LORAN at 58th Bomb Wing Training School on Tinian Island of the Marianas during the last year of WWII) I also instructed in the use of the APQ-23 which was the first radar set to have offset bombing and DME. Today an offset bombing derivative is called RNAV.
Loran is a hyperbolic system of position fixing with long range capability. Loran combines the words long and range. Loran-A began as a naval shipboard system during WWII. The equipment was reduced in size to about two units 14'x20"x24" which became the airborne AN/APN-4. By the end of the war the APN-9 required only one such unit. By 1990 the Loran APN (design) number was well into the APN-30's and smaller than a cigar box.
Initially you had to tune in a master and slave set of stations to get two wave forms on a small five inch oscilloscope screen. Then you had to fine tune them until the wave forms until they were stationary one over the other. That done, you had to switch to an electronic series of time delay counters that allowed you to determine the difference in time it took to receive the two signals.
The system relied upon a parabolic series of lines that can be easily reproduced by fastening a loose string between two nails or pegs driven into a sheet of plywood. Taking a pencil and using it to keep the string taunt, draw the resulting curved line until it completely encircles the two fastening points. The interesting aspect of this line is that any point on the curved line is always the same distance difference between the two fastening point.
Put this line on a chart along with the a number giving the constant distance difference between the two fastening points or stations. On a LORAN chart all the lines from a given pair of stations was of the same color with the spacing being a selected number of milli-seconds apart
Knowing you were somewhere on that line of position then required that you tune into another pair of stations that had chart lines of a different color that were such that they crossed the lines of another color a nearly right angles. By tuning in both pairs in rapid succession and counting the number of milliseconds you could determine the intersection of the two lines by use of numbers and colors.
The LORAN – A system of WWII had a system error of about two-percent and the minimum 30 seconds it took a skilled operator to tune, align, count the two time differences and locate it on the chart would give the past location within an acceptable distance for aerial navigation.
The aircraft position is determined by timing the difference in milliseconds it
takes the signal to reach the aircraft from the slave and master stations. In
WWII these had to be counted on a cathode ray tube. Now it is automatically and
continuously computed on a microprocessor.
Loran Stations transmit radio pulse signals with a wait time determined by the range of the system. This prevents subsequent pulses from causing interference. Such pulses can be of very high power. Two loran transmitters, several hundred miles apart, made a master/slave pair on the same frequency. The slave would not transmit until it was triggered by the master pulse. It should be noted in passing that there was no apparent effort by the Japanese to jam Loran frequencies during WWII.
The Loran set would be tuned to a Loran master/slave pair and could receive the pulses. The pulses would be shown along a cathode ray tube (CRT) line with a space between to be measured as a difference in reception time. By carefully adjusting the frequency of the electronic sweep to the pulse frequency the two pulses could be made to appear with the same space between them on the time base line. If the frequencies were different the pulses would creep forward or backward. The initial line could be greatly magnified and the signals could be electronically superimposed by fine tuning the delay knob. Once the two signals were detected and superimposed new switches brought up a CRT electronic clock. Post WWII stations sometimes had two slave stations.
The CRT electronic clock divided the sweep of the phosphorus ray across the tube into a series of spaced divisions much like a ruler. The larger spaces were repeatedly subdivided and could be re-magnified and subdivided with additional settings. With training, the divisions on the scope could be counted down from tens of thousands to one millisecond. A skilled operator could do the entire operation is less than one minute.
It was now necessary for the operator to make reference to a Loran chart. This consisted of a Mercator chart over printed with hyperbolic Loran lines. they were drawn across the entire chart with numerals to mark the calibrated milliseconds of different pulse times between the master and slave stations of a given pair. At least two pairs of stations were calibrated for each chart. The lines for each station were of different colors. In 1977 there were still 65 Loran A chains in operation. As of 1991 no A Chains are in operation in the U. S.
One of the difficulties with Loran-A, initially, was that from a centerline between the stations there were always two possible lines with the same microsecond difference. The operator had to know somewhat his general reference to the station pair to prevent using the incorrect hyperbola. Post-war Loran-A used a coded delay as well as odometer to solve this problem and give instantaneous readings.
Loran transmitters would produce both ground wave pulses and one or more sky wave pulses. It was necessary for the operator to distinguish the difference by referring to pulse amplitude until beyond 1000 nautical miles. Beyond this distance all waves would be sky waves. Weak ground waves were to be preferred to sky waves since the charts were based on ground wave differences. When sky waves were used a correction table had to be incorporated into the chart use.
Today e- LORAN (enhanced Loran) can do things that GPS can’t. GPS can reach into the canyons of nature and cities. The new e-loran can select, identify, and even solve position using WAAS. The antenna looks like the ADF antenna used today. Accuracy is as good as GPS.
We do not know the why of magnetism. We can only wonder why the earth is magnetic and why the magnetic poles do not coincide with the true poles. Ancient iron workers had discovered and displayed the powers of attraction due to magnetism. The origin of the name seems to come from an area in Greece were lodestones could be found, Magnesia. The first literary mention of magnetism occurs after 1180 when Roger Bacon used a needle in a straw to point to the North star. Peter Peregrime wrote ninety years later than breaking a magnet gives two magnets. He also noted that the lines of force of a magnet conformed with the longitudinal lines of the earth and focused at points he named the North and South poles. This discovery preceded by 300 years the creation of a bar magnet.
The different positions of the magnetic poles to true poles were first noted by the Chinese but came to the western world when Columbus faced down his superstitious crew who were rebellious because of the compass needle changing direction on passage of what we call the agonic line of no declination. That declination existed was well known before Columbus, but the existence of `zero' declination was unique to the knowledge of that time. This line was used by Pope Alexander VI to separate the conflicting Portuguese from the Spaniards in South America. This political division was defeated when Magellan sailed from East to West thus circumventing Alexander VI via the back door. Thus opened the world with magnetism the key.
Sanford Fleming divided the equator into 24 15-degree segments with a
difference of one hour per zone.
The E-6B was more created than invented by Phillip Dalton in the early 1930s. It was initially called "The Dalton Dead Reckoning Computer". The exact derivation of E6B is not known but the E-6B has become the generic name for a vast number of similar devices, which include a circular slide rule and a sliding wind angle ground speed plotter. The Dalton E-6B was developed from a large shipboard device for handheld use aboard aircraft. My first E-6B, which is still in the family, is from WWII and made of solid brass with enameled engraving. A quality piece. Plastic E-6Bs became common later in the war. Aluminum and cardboard came later as the E-6B became obsolete with the advent of electronic E-6Bs.
With practice the E-6B can be operated with one hand on both sides once the forecast wind has been plotted. The E6B is a circular slide rule that has numerous markings for changing from different forms of measurement. The numerical scales allow relatively rapid solution of proportional problems. The best use of the E6B can be achieved only when you fully understand how proportions work. There are two time scales on the inner circles with distance, and measures on the outside.
Every ground speed/wind correction angle problem can be done with a ruler, paper and pencil. Doing the problem on paper makes it so that you understand and appreciate the E6B all the more. Try a basic problem both ways and see what I mean. When I teach the E6B, I like to begin with the drawing of wind triangles. This helps you understand and ask the question: "Is my answer reasonable?" You are much less likely to get the wind correction angle backwards. (Could be part of the commercial pilots test.)
All the speed, time, distance, fuel scales are proportional. You can solve them just about as quickly on paper as with the E6B. The interior windows of altitude and airspeed corrections cannot be done easily on paper.
Uses vector lines of proportionate length for true course and ground speed.
The true heading and airspeed is another line and the wind vector gives wind
speed and direction. The E-6B developed by Philip Dalton put his information on
a dial and sliding grid. Dalton was killed in 1941. The most prized E-6Bs are
brass. I have one. The advantage of the E-6B is that you can detect input errors
more easily than in an electronic computer.
Origins of ATC
The ATC system is founded upon a great foundation which has endured decades of administrative incompetence, political manipulation and under funding. That ATC has endured and survived is due to thousands of dedicated controllers and technicians who persevere against difficult odds.
The beginning was at St. Louis, Missouri where Lambert field was under the local city selected airport manager. I have been fortunate enough to see many pictures of the early days since a personal friend was the airport manager’s, daughter during the time Archie League first acted as an ATC controller using multi-colored flags. I recently sent the airport museum a 1929 parts catalogue that was distributed by a company based at Lambert. It is amazing to me, in retrospect, to see how my entire life has spanned the development of aviation and ATC. Those familiar with air traffic control recognize the name Archie W. League as the father of ATC. He started in St. Louis in the 1920s waving flags to help direct traffic.
In the late 1920s there were 1000 named airfields. Some even had lighted windsocks purchased from the Heath company beginning in 1928. The Heath company also sold one of the very first aircraft kit planes. A very close personal friend demonstrated the Heathkit airplane at all the big air races during the 1930s. He died in 1999 after a great G.A. career that ended during WWII. During the late 1930's and the War years he served as executive assistant and personal pilot for Henry J. Kaiser. His name was Howard Lindbergh. Indirectly, I was able to get all of his historic photos and news clippings of great planes and personalities sent to the EAA museum the year before he died. They were in huge albums covering ten-year periods of the 20s and 30s. He was a truly great but unsung hero of aviation.
I have before me a 1941 chart that is part of the Rand McNally & Company
world atlas. Compared to the available rail lines it is certainly a very sparse
web. A specific part of this U.S. Air Mail and Air Express Route chart were a
series of lighted airway beacons and radio markers as reporting points. New York
has eight routes, Los Angeles nine routes, Atlanta eight, San Francisco three,
Seattle four, Dallas five and Chicago seven routes. There are only four direct
routes across the country. The longest leg on any route is from Salt Lake to
In 1935 the increasing mid-air collision rate caused a conference to create a set of instrument flying rules. The airlines came up with their plan of sharing time and airspace. Without radar there could be not positive control. The first aircraft radios for commercial use were made in Oakland, CA along with the first in-flight meals. Cleveland OH had the first ATC tower radio. Every tower with a radio had its own system while the Government tried to run the airways. The system has grown like Topsey. For sixty-five years nearly every accident has created a new rule or interpretation of an existing rule.
Although League was the first controller, the first radio tower was
established in Cleveland in 1930. With the radio came "roger".
Lawrence Puller, the first radio controller, soon found that the pilots weren't
sure how to acknowledge his directions. Since call signs weren't yet in use,
Puller had each pilot use his first name (he dealt almost exclusively with the
same pilots day in and day out). Roger Farnsworth, an airmail pilot, was by far
the most active pilot in Cleveland. When pilots flew in for the first time, they
usually heard Farnsworth saying "roger" in reply. Well, you know what
they say -"When in Cleveland . . . " Thus, pilots took to saying
"roger" to acknowledge the tower; and it stuck!
Individual contributions to the system like J.V. Tighe's shrimp boat aircraft tagger, the Plan Position Indicator radar scope, the ability to eliminate terrain clutter, removal of slow moving vehicles (a French invention), airspace depiction and digital display. I was in the Oakland Terminal Building, which was the location of the Bay Area Radar Facility, when first all the freeway automobile traffic was electronically removed from the radar scopes. With improved radar and radios aircraft can be kept separated by climbing, turning or holding. I also baptized the opening of the first U.S. Flight Watch the night it opened in Oakland
Weather for ATC and aircraft arrived in 1932. Any interesting facet of this early weather resided in wind forecasts until the 1980s. From one of the mountain states a forecaster always included his forecast specific to his airport at 7000'. This reported winds aloft at 7000' feet continued for over fifty years. The bureaucratic inertia in the FAA never ceases to amaze.
The ATC as we now know it began with Lee Warren and C.E Wise scanned the entire system and selected out the best to make the en route system. When WWII began we had 15 ARTCCs and over 4000 specialists who became nearly 8000 and 12 more ARTCCs by wars end. After the war the invention and extension of use in radios of the transistor so improved radio communication that true positive control was possible. The fact still remains that the inertia in the system requires tragedy to bring change and money where needed..
Instrument Landing System
In 1918 the first marker beacon was demonstrated. In the early twenties the first four-course radio range was demonstrated. This could get you from point to point but not on the ground. By 1930 the under funded aeronautics branch of the Department of Commerce was testing and experimenting with an instrument landing system. One difficult aspect of the system was getting the necessary receivers on aircraft. Equipment of that era used vacuum tubes that were notorious for short life and failures. For many years the search was on for a zero-zero system. This has only in the recent past become possible. Once a 200-foot minimum was accepted as the best available things began to improve.
In 1928 the concept of an ILS with the heavy equipment on the ground and the indicators in the airplane was accepted. A cooperative effort by the Guggenheim Foundation used Jimmy Doolittle to contact the Sperry Gyroscope Company to get them to develop two needed instruments. Sperry created an artificial horizon (Now called an attitude indicator) and a gyrocompass (Now called a heading indicator) which gives precise and easily determined information. Doolittle used a localizer beam to guide him to the airport and a fan-marker as a means for determining distance from touchdown. The last remaining necessary instrument came from the Kollsman Instrument Company. In August of 1929 Kollsman perfected a barometric adjustable altimeter that gave vertical information within 20 feet. At the end of September Doolittle flew a localizer approach to touchdown.
The first ILSs were installed by the Department of commerce at College Park and the military put one in at Mitchell Field, NY in 1930. They were proven to work but the next installations occurred during WWII and were often 'portable' so as to move to selected runways at the airport. At the same time a high frequency glide slope beam was being developed at College Park, Maryland which by 1931 was blended into a three element landing system consisting of a localizer, marker beacons and glide slope. Marshal S. Boggs made a blind landing on a runway whereas Doolittle had landed on a large field. Boggs' localizer was accurate to 20' at the threshold. The glide slope was accurate to five feet when 30' above the ground. Boggs made over 100 such landings but always with a safety pilot. Jim Kinney took over for Boggs who was killed while on vacation. Kinney completed the first IFR flight from takeoff to landing by flying in clouds from College Park to Newark. Lindbergh made two ILS approaches using a safety pilot. The project was killed in 1933 by the withdrawal of federal funds due to the depression.
The first system with a localizer, markers and a glide path was put into experimental use by the Department of Commerce and by the U.S. Army and found to be efficient and effective landing systems. It was not until WWII that funds became available to install the equipment at both airports and in airplanes to make the systems practical. A little known facet of WWII is that more aircraft were destroyed operationally than in combat. By operationally we mean in training and flight operations leading up to combat operations but not in a combat situation. An example would be aircraft assembly over England prior to departing for Germany. Another situation was the flights across the Himalayas between India and China bringing materials for the war against Japan.The first mention that I have been able to find regarding the first practical use of the instrument landing system (ILS) occurred in 1943 at, of all places, China. Thus the ILS is well past sixty years of age. Prior to the ILS the ADF and Radio Range were the standard approach used. Few aircraft were equipped with the localizer and glide slope required for flying the ILS. As often as not the pilot flying was not trained in its use and had to be talked through the process. It was very difficult to teach this to a pilot for his first such approach. For security reasons, the procedure had to be disguised during the radio transmissions. This was a top-secret device. Like LORAN the Japanese never had any idea that we were capable of making 'blind landings' as well as using electronic lines of position for navigation. No effort to jam these operations seems to have occurred.
The aircraft in China were 'stacked' in a holding pattern. (Side item: Holding patterns have straight legs because the heading indicators of the day required the time from the turn to recover and avoid precessing) over a non-directional beacon at 500-foot intervals and each aircraft was cleared for the approach as it reached the bottom of the stack. It only one controller or pilot to screw up the descent instructions to create chaos. It happened. This descent method is still a viable option should a 2000 era pilot need to make an emergency IFR descent. Put the needle on your 270-degree wingtip and keep it there while spiraling down.
On reaching a pre-determined altitude over the NDB the pilot would intercept the localizer, fly to intercept the glide slope and by keeping the needles centered the new system would allow nearly zero-zero landings.
The system at that time was described as requiring the pilot to fly to a (marker) beacon several miles away from the airport at a specified altitude. He did this using a specified heading and his ADF from the airport using his ADF and a beacon (marker beacon indicator). He would then turn to center the needles for the blind landing system. (ILS) Even then, the lateral needle was called the 'localizer' and the slope indicator was called the 'glide path'.. The pilot flew so as to keep the 'cross-hairs' centered on the indicator. (For those of you who have never used a telescopic gun sight…you aim using 'cross-hairs' inside the scope. On the ground a portable transmitter (could be moved to other runways) using directional antennae is setup near the departure end of the runway. The localizer beam was narrow and pointed toward the landing end of the runway and beyond. The glide slope beam was 'curved' and when used in conjunction with the distant 'marker altitude' would provide a descent path to the runway.
The aircraft had two antennae, one for glide slope and the other for localizer. The two signals from the ground were processed by the receiver and sent to the ILS head mounted on the instrument panel. The pilot had to adjust speed and rate of descent to keep the needles centered. At the time it was likened to "juggling three balls with a carton of eggs balanced on your nose"
When the federal government dropped the ball the airlines were interested but an ILS system cost over sixteen thousand dollars and $600 more to equip an airplane. Then when the expensive airmail contracts were cancelled, the U.S. Army began flying the mail. In five months there were 66 accidents. Then the government became interested in a landing system, not the ILS, but an NDB system with markers. Using this system Lt. Al Hegenberger made the first solo blind landing ever at McCook Field Ohio. Because of Hegenberger this system became the government's favored system and it was so primitive that it could be federally financed because it was not an airport improvement. The airlines were unhappy, knowing that the ILS was waiting in the wings.
TWA developed and tested a high frequency ILS system in Germany but again it was not precise enough for the airlines. In 1935 some scientists who had left the previous government ILS started their own company and developed a portable ILS that could be moved from runway to runway. This system was supported by and adopted by the Navy for land use.
In 1934, United Airlines acquired the original Newark ILS equipment and moved
it to Oakland, CA. This was installed as a permanent ILS as modified in 1936. In
March of 1936 R.T. Freng in a Boeing 247 flew an autopilot coupled ILS approach.
Over 3000 such approaches were flown over the next two years. Other airlines,
and the military services were involved.
When five airline crashes occurred in December the government initiated a well financed airport modernization program. In 1938 the first passenger-carrying airline landed at Pittsburbg, PA using the ILS in actual conditions. The first United-Bendix ILS systems were installed at Burbank, Oakland, Kansas city, Chicago, Cleveland and Newark. In June of 1938 the 1926 law against use of federal funds for airports was erased from the books. However, before WWII began only one government installed ILS existed. During the war eight civil airports and 29 army fields got ILS installed. During the war the military favored the Ground Controlled Approach system which was radar controlled from the ground. This system is expensive and manpower intensive. The ILS finally won out but only as a low approach landing system.
The hump flights began in Northern India and ended in China. One ILS was available in Assam on a dark and rainy night when a C-46 radioed that he was returning from China with only one engine and no go-around possible. The tower queried the pilot as to whether he had one of those cross-haired giszmos on the panel. The pilot replied in the affirmative but said he had not been trained to use it.
The airport controller arranged to have a jeep pull the ILS system out to the
far end of the runway in use. The pilot was instructed to make altitude
call-outs and have a landing light on. His total instructions consisted of keep
the cross hairs centered until he saw the runway. The guy driving the jeep would
get off the runway as soon as he saw the landing light or heard the motor. The
jeep escaped and the landing was successful.
Flying the Radio Range
The first instrument pilots flew approaches mostly based upon their local knowledge of terrain and personal limits. They had their own collection of resources and tricks often including approach assistance from locals on the final approach course. They concentrated on the preciseness of flying when staying on course depended upon their matching the -. and .- of the A and N signals for a steady tone. I have done this on a Link trainer during WWII and it was not easy. You could spin a Link if you got too slow. Even less easy would it be with erratic signal input from the range station in actual conditions.
Radio ranges and fan markers were the only IFR navigational aids until the mid-forties. When worst came to worst you had only a magnetic compass and altimeter to keep you high and straight. At best you had needle, ball and airspeed. You had to rely on a flight plan and dead reckoning to get you within reception range of the range station. You continue making radio reports of your estimated position, not knowing if you are in communications or not.
Once received some of the radio ranges were notorious in having vagaries of signal. You don't have a flat plate directional compass, yours reads backwards just like the whiskey compass and precesses so badly that you include the resetting as a regular part of your scan. Your instrument chart is on an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper. As an instrument pilot you are pitting your instrument skills against all other aircraft flying this particular radio range. The competitive world pits airline destination arrivals one airline against another and one pilot against all others to show what he was capable of doing.
As you fly down one of the four radio range legs the volume increases and blends with the ident so you turn down the noise and hope for the null of silence where the legs meet. There may be a marker there as well so you watch for the light. As you depart on an outbound leg the decrease in volume confirms your direction and a boost in volume becomes necessary. With a steady tone you can continue to descend to the procedure turn altitude for three minutes before turning out on the procedure turn's 45-degree outbound leg for one minute. On the inbound leg you wait for the appropriate A or N before turning inbound for your descent to minimums.
Now comes gear and flaps and a rate of descent timed to get you to the cone of silence where the legs meet. You continue your descent, watch the time, confirm gear an flaps and lower the range volume. The range tone fades to nothing and then quickly increases as the marker light goes out. Only by holding heading can we keep the A and N as a steady but rapidly decreasing tone. Time to the airport will depend on the wind which can only be estimated. You must get down to minimums but not too soon nor too late. Nail the airspeed and the time shall set you there. Minimums…
The schooling of instrument pilots initially occurred in the right seat. Then came the Link trainer just before WWII. The rest is history.
The four-legged range station was designed to fit a musicians ear. Over time the sound of the range would destroy the ear just as much would the engine out the window. The ability to detect its variations while concentrating on the variables of _. and ._ would deteriorate with age. If lost you might get oriented if you can detect the fading of a signal that tells it is back there. The range along with fan markers are the only IFR navigational method until the mid 1930s. The importance of flying accurate headings, altitudes and times was essential.
Radio Ranges had charted legs directions and altitudes somewhat as the charts of today. They were either + or x shaped with the cone of silence at the intersection. Several different approaches were possible on the combined range station and fan marker system. A pilot could fly a leg using the A and N signals blended into a solid tone. The width of the beam would get tighter and tighter until reaching to cone of silence. The cone of silence was a timing fix, a descent fix and the point at which the A and N changes to N and A. After a given time and at a given altitude you could make a course reversal and track back on the reciprocal course until reaching the cone of silence again. Then you could time your descent to the altitude minimums on the chart. Minimums were 3/4 mile and 300 feet.
The last U. S. range in the lower 48 states was shown on the Maine Sectional
and closed down in 1970. The basic Instrument procedure before Joe Duckworth's
teaching the use of the attitude indicator, consisted of use of just needle,
ball and airspeed. The needle tells if you are flying straight and level or
making a turn. The ball tells of the quality of your turn. Airspeed tells us if
we are maintaining altitude, climbing or descending. Using this system the pilot
acts as an autopilot or servomechanism.
The last four-course radio range in the US was at Northway, Alaska. It was shut down on September 5, 1974, after more than forty years of service. The center antenna of the Northway range remains in operation as a non-directional beacon.
What Might Have
If aviation had been allowed to progress, as has the Internet, without government/military lethargy things would have been different years ago. Instrument flying with 'gyros' was civilian only until WWII in spite of Jimmy Dolittle's blind flying exhibitions.
The first operational ILS system existed in the early 1930s. It was 'too expensive'.
The first transistors existed in the 1930s. They became 'known' after WWII
The first DME capability existed before the end of WWII.
The first RNAV capability existed before the end of WWII.
LORAN-A existed through most of WWII
Radar altimeters and inertial navigation existed in WWII.
High-octane fuel was available long before use was 'allowed'.
Electronic ignition has been proven better...why not have it?
FADEC is here! Single lever for engine control.
And the list goes on..
More 'What's New
--G.A. jets are cheaper, quieter, faster and more reliable.
--Reliability of other systems is in doubt.
--Triple redundancy in flight and navigational computers will exist.
--Computer for flight information and graphical presentation.
--Second computer for navigation information, weather and traffic.
--Third computer for systems information and backup.
--Dedicated batteries would backup electrical system.
--"Pilot would become systems monitor but should retain take-over authority.
--Mass production would reduce aircraft cost from present day low of $90 down to $39 per pound.
--Problems lie with crosswinds, fuel options, and governmental lethargy.
Collins says that it (whifferdill) is a flight condition where you are in very slow level flight as over a runway obstacle and making a steep dive to the runway, abrupt flare and touchdown.
Other definitions I've seen/heard:
According to Gemini Astronauts: an orbit that intersects another orbit at two points (typically created by launching an object at 90 degrees from a first orbit, in the plane of the first orbit)
In aviation: Any unorthodox flight maneuver involving high rate of change of pitch, yaw and/or roll necessary to achieve the objective that's otherwise not achievable.
The fighter community - Whifferdill to get the bogey in your sights even though you were so out of position you shouldn't have been able to
General Aviation - whifferdill to get the gear to break free and come down.
Helicopter pilots - whifferdill to prevent a major crash after an uncommanded left yaw (presumably resulted *only* in a minor crash).
According to Dr. Who - a shape changing alien such as Frobisher.
It's been used in the fighter community for years in energy maneuverability
training. It's used as a 0 net loss Ps turn reversal . The Thunderbirds also use
it as a turn around for the same reason...no energy losses. In fact, if you do a
dill exactly right, you can actually gain energy in the reversal, which the TB's
do quite often and well! It's really nothing but a big wing over really, but
executed with energy management in mind. If performed at a constant power
setting, you lose kinetically and gain potentially on the up line, and reverse
the energy tradeoff on the backside to a 0 net loss. In a T38, it's common to 0
g through the apex and power down the reverse side for a net Ps gain for the
dill. Sneaky, :-)))) but it's a good way to reverse and stay in the practice
area without losing energy in the reversal.
Footnote on the past:
As a youngster in the early and mid 1930's I lived very close to Hamilton Field, in Northern California. I would bicycle there to visit soldier friends such as Sergeant "Spiffy" Wells and Eddy Martin but especially Corporal "Red" Varner. He was a career regular army man who served as an aviation propeller specialist. "Red' would take me through the hangers telling me about the work he did and showing me inside the aircraft. He was short and stocky with the reddest hair in the world. Aircraft at this time were mostly P-12's and somewhat later B-10's and P-26's. At that time aircraft engines were packed and shipped in crates made of 4' thick balsa wood. Thanks to "Red" I had model airplane materials coming out of my ears. "Red" took me on the ramp when the very first B-17 made its visit but I was chased off for riding my bike through the prop wash.
Years later Readers Digest had a story about the Swoose including the part "Red" played in its historic resurrection and flight with General Bret. Shortly before I entered the service I met "Red" again. He was still an enlisted man but had been recommended for OCS. He told me of how difficult it had been salvaging the Swoose but indicated the worst of it was keeping the plane flyable once they left the Philippines. I met "Red" once again after the war. We spent a few minutes together sharing our memories of time and friends before the war.
He had married well in Marin County and retired from the military as a captain. I don't believe the marriage worked out and he died in the 50's. Now the kicker. Have your ever had a spine tingling, goose bump raising experience caused by revival of the past? I never had until I passed the nose of a stored B-17 near the B-29 Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Garber Facility. On the nose was the faded name "The Swoose". On the fuselage was painted the names of the crew, including the name of my friend as Harold Varner. To those who knew him, he was always "Red". The pilot of the Swoose was Swoozie Kurtz' father. The actress was named after the Swoose.
In 1847 Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian formed a weather bureau consisting of 150 telegraphers who as their daily opening transmission sent a one-word Morse code description of the current weather. By 1850 the rotunda of the Smithsonian had posted a synoptic weather map from which made weather predictions possible by describing weather as great rivers of moving air and moving as 'fronts' similar to the trench warfare fronts of WWI.
Weather fronts were discovered and named by Jakob Bjerknes whose father
Vilhelm Bjerknes pioneered weather forecasting. He did this for the benefit of
the Norwegian fishing fleets after wartime restrictions cut off at sea weather
reports. In 1940 Bjerknes became a professor at UCLA and later pioneered weather
interpretation from information derived from satellite cloud picture. It was he
who formulated the idea that the interaction between sea-air temperatures
creates our weather patterns. He said that the cold undersea waters of the world
in conjunction with the upwelling warm waters of the equator gave us the winds
and cloud patterns of the arctic polar cold air masses as they move across the
northern polar regions of the world. April 1, 1960 TIROS I on its first circle
of the earth picked up a storm headed for northeastern U.S. It was the first
time in history that we received advance notice of a Polar Cold air mass being
on its way.
Thirty years ago the best a forecast could be was plus or minus two hours and ten hours in advance. The cold fronts have two speeds, fast at 60 mph in the winter and slow at half that in the summer. Fast cold fronts have squall lines of 70,000-foot thunderstorms often 300 miles ahead of the front. There is a shock wave of moist unstable air with tornadoes ahead of the front. At frontal passage there is a clockwise shift in wind direction a drop and rise in pressure, a shift in dew point and temperature. The associated turbulence can destroy any aircraft built. I recently flew an hour from Kansas City to Phoenix at 39,000 in chop where the actual frontal activity was over 80 miles to our south. Not a pleasant ride.
Never fly beneath an orographic (lifted by terrain) thunderstorm. If the winds are strong enough to create a thunderstorm the turbulence below is there as well. A thunderstorm under development is more deadly during its first 15 minutes on penetration of the freezing level than one that is older. The best penetration altitude is between four and six thousand feet above the surface so long as it does not include the altitudes between freezing and 5000 feet higher. (0C to -10C). Slow to your Va speed recomputed at Vref. You can approximate this by reducing your speed by a percentage that is half of the percentage your actual weight is below maximum allowable gross weight.
Get slowed up before entering the weather, use no flaps but gear down helps, flaps have only 2-G structural limits. Do not change power just maintain attitude and ignore altitude and airspeed variations. Fly straight and level, no turns since they increase G-loads the aircraft may not be capable of surviving. Shut off the autopilot. Your first and best option is total avoidance but one the point of avoidance is past, follow the suggestions above. Pray.
In her book The Fun Of It published (posthumously) in 1937, Amelia Earhart has this to say about the pilot licensing procedures of the day?
... After a year had passed, I achieved the only type of license issued at that time, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. And...In passing I should call attention to the fact that it wasn't really necessary to have any license at this period. There were no regulations such as exist today. People just flew, when and if they could, in anything which would get off the ground. Methods of teaching flying have greatly improved over those of the dim dark ages when I learned. There were no schools then, as we know them now, nor standardized equipment's. Fundamentally, of course, the principles are just the same and so are the fledgling fliers. ...
Exclusive of those for glider pilots, there are four types (1) of flying licenses to aspire to at present in the United States. The first is the private license which requires 10 hours of solo time --that is, flying a plane alone. The second is the Industrial and the third is the Limited Commercial (commonly called the L. C.), both of which require fifty hours solo. The fourth and highest type is the Transport License which requires 200 hours. This last is the only one which unrestrictedly permits its holder to fly passengers for hire or to give instruction.
The cost of obtaining a license varies from an approximate minimum of $300 to a possible out-of-pocket cost of $4,000 for the Transport grade. Of course, all that the schools can give is the training and supervised solo flying. The individual then must be examined by a Department of Commerce inspector, both in written work and in actual flying. The questions are on the plane, the motor, navigation, meteorology, Air Traffic rules and Department of Commerce regulation. The flying consists of landings and take-offs, with air maneuvers which easily show the pilot's proficiency.
In a way the time and money invested in securing a Transport license is comparable to that necessary for preparing for other professions. A low or medial student spends several years in ...
(1) There is also one for autogiro pilots and one called Airline Pilot's License for highly experienced Transport holders' these are rare.
... Perhaps I should explain what stunting is.
The Department of Commerce defines it as "any maneuver not necessary for normal flight." This is a very inclusive definition. I am sure at least a hundred others would be necessary to explain it. Let's try another approach. Just which stunts do flying schools teach? The answer to that query sounds more promising. The fundamental stunts taught to students are slips, stalls and spins -- three S's instead of R's. Loops, barrel rolls and variations and combinations of many kinds are included depending on the instruction desired. The Army, Navy and Marines practice intricate and specialized maneuvers, performing many of them in formation. ...
... When I learned to fly [~1920], a physical examination was not necessary. Today, under the administration of the Department of Commerce, no one may even attempt to learn without first establishing his physical ability. …so the first step taken by the flying candidate must be to secure a medical examination. ...... Primarily the modern examination concerns eyesight and muscular control, but general physical fitness is also a prerequisite. In addition to the familiar test for color blindness and general vision, the determination of depth perception is vital. This means the visual ability to judge distance. In a plane the pilot must know how far he is above the ground (even to a matter if inches, for expert handling) as the wheels skim over the surface of the field before they touch.
The depth perception test is made with the applicant sitting about twenty feet in front of a box-like object. Through a small window he sees two upright sticks like miniature goal posts. To one is attached a string which pulls it forward or back. The examiner separates the "goal posts," and the applicant must adjust them so that they seem to be on a line with each other and equidistant from him. Inability to bring them together within the limit of a few millimeters often ends a flying career before it has begun.
A candidate who ultimately seeks only a private license can "get by" with physical imperfections that would make him ineligible for a higher grade. The necessity for wearing glasses, for instance, would disqualify him except in the private classification, and he would be passed for that only if the correction in his lenses was too great.
Aerobatics Instructor Was a Woman
During WWI Majorie Stinson became the first aerobatic instructor for the Army during WWI at a San Antonio, Texas flying school under an Army contract to teach three pilots. She had been instructing Canadians for several years for the British.
During WWII studies in England showed that the new bomber crewmember had bad odds of being able to survive 25 missions. Less than 25-percent made it to 25 missions. Half of the crew was either sick, wounded, transferred or mentally disabled. Odds improved to 50-percent of completing 25 missions once a member made it to 20 missions. My knowing these statistics in early 1943 greatly improved my academic efforts in training schools.
The 1943 loss rate was 9.2-percent and in 1944 it improved to 3.5. This ‘improvement’ meant that of an original 1000 crewmembers only 411 would complete 25 missions. The Germans never ran out of airplanes. However, average flight experience fell rapidly throughout the war.
From the end of the war until May of 1947 the manpower loss of the Army Air Force was from 2,253,00 to 303,614. It did not become a viable force until the first year of the Korean War.
Many bombing missions were deliberately flown into bad weather; the understanding was that the low experience-level of the German pilots in poor weather was just another way to reduce the enemy forces.
Jose Luis Aresti, developer of the famous Aresti System for diagramming
aerobatic maneuvers on paper, has died in Spain. His method was the
basis of international aerobatic competition for many years. He also
served in leadership roles in international aerobatic organizations
that supervised competitions.
---Papers are kept at Yale University.
---Safety was always his prime criteria related to any kind of flight activity.
---He began flying lessons in 1922 but did not solo until he bought his own plane in 1925.
---To earn flying money he worked as a wing-walker, parachutist and aircraft factory worker.
---In 1922 the average life expectancy of a pilot was 900 hours, today it is (looking)
---In early 1924 he enlisted as an Army Aviation cadet along with 104 others only 33 survived. He was #1.
---Just before graduation he had a midair collision and parachuted on a newly issued chute.
---He flew the U.S. Mail and used some of this time thinking of long distance flying and the prize money.
---He sold his idea to some St Louis businessmen who backed him on his plan’s merits.
---The father of one of my former students did the welding on the exhaust system of Lindbergh’s plane.
---In 1930 he was first to make a glass perfusion pump eventually to make possible organ transplantation.
---In the process of making the pump work he made a system to wash blood and separate out serum.
---Lindbergh used his influence to obtain financing for Dr.Goddard’s rocket experiments of the 1930’s.
---No rocket has ever flown without using Dr.Goddard’s patents for rocketry.
---A speech honoring Dr.Goddard he foretold the use of rocketry for space travel, war use and research.
---Lindbergh was sent on a hidden mission by the U.S. to evaluate Germany’s air war potential.
---Officials called him pro-Nazi when told by Lindbergh that Germany could defeat all of Europe..\
---The U.S. had decided that Germany must not win the war and began to arm Europe but too late.
---Lindbergh was opposed to the duplicity of the U.S. Leadership that was getting us into Europe’s war.
---Under constant attack by Roosevelt regarding his loyalty, he resigned his military reserve status.
---Pearl Harbor unified the disagreements but Lindbergh was not allowed back into the military.
---Lindbergh was hated by President Roosevelt because he was so often right and Roosevelt wrong.
---Lindbergh was denied entry into the armed forces and security clearances because of Roosevelt.
---He flew 50 combat missions in the Pacific as company representative to aircraft manufacturers.
---Lindbergh demonstrated the bomb load carrying of the Vought Corsair could be increased from 2000 to 4000 pounds.
---He showed pilots how to raise the operational range of the P-38 from 500 miles to 950 miles.
---Increased range of the P-38 made it possible to shoot down Admiral Yamamoto of Pearl Harbor fame.
---I my opinion, Lindbergh was one of the finest Americans this country ever produced and mistreated..
June 27 - 1909
-- The first advertisement for an airplane for sale was in New York papers.
Electronic Navigation History
I fought the celestial vs electronics battle through most of WWII. I was with the B-29s initially in India as radar bombardment mechanic. I had learned LORAN at Boca Raton, FL and it became my duty to try to keep the APN-4 in my group (468th) operational. The set was in two units each the size of a 19" TV. 80 vacuum tubes made it operate until higher altitudes caused electrical malfunctions. Only good for 600 miles at night in the best of conditions. Reliability always in doubt due to tube failure, vibration of connections, corrosion and operator skills..
The Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) of WWII had eight codes in a 10"x
10"x 10" case which also included a thermite inertial bomb to destroy
the interior on crash impact. British code name was "Parrot" which is
why we still squawk. We now have our transponder soon to be all Mode S to tie in
with the Automatic Dependent Surveillance
-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Traffic Information Service-Broadcast (TIS-B) which will give you all the information that ATC now has and spells the doom to RADAR as we now know and use it.
By ship to Tinian in the Pacific. Assigned to 58th Wing Training center to teach LORAN. New B-29s coming over with APN-9 which was only the size of one 19' TV and ‘only’ 40 tubes.. New planes were taken over by senior officers and older planes assigned to new arrivals. Result was that I was given the job of training old navigators on the -9 and the new on the -4. As a Corporal instructor I ranked my students none of whom wanted to learn about something they had previously learned not to trust. Tough teaching assignment but made me want to become a teacher.
Much of the 1400 mile flight to Japan was at lower levels with stations on islands like Ulithi. Good LORAN range and accuracy. Flights required passage through weather fronts that reduced use of celestial navigation and increased reliance on electronic. We even had first inertial systems which read out longitude and latitude as an odometer in the newer planes.. My plane has a hard-wired LORAN the size of cigar box. Last military LORANs were in the APN-30s. Still celestial ruled with electronics a step-child category.
As an instructor on the very newest of electronics I was seeing the birth of
DME as the slant range to a bomb release point. RNAV as used to put bearing and
distance to radar visible target to hit non-radar target. Even the first German
radio controlled bomb was instrumental in sending me to India as a
At war's end, I was operator/mechanic of a supersonic bombardment simulator that had the Nagasaki Chart installed for practice radar bombing runs in the immediate vicinity of Nagasaki. (Look at end of IFR for more 7.91 through 7.94) Device used tank of water with underwater glass maps made of sand and beads to give radar-scope pictures of Japan by using a vibrating underwater crystal to send to-scale transmissions and echoes back to the scope.
At the time it was so secret that I had no idea that I was at the cutting
edge of electronic development that with education and time could have been a
most rewarding career had I been allowed to know.
Origin of the Salute and Metallic Uniform
What is the origin of the military salute? The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.
What is the origin of the military braid at the wrist of tunics? Napoleon once reviewing his troops noted that they were using the sleeves of their new uniforms to wipe their runny noses. He order that the sleeves be decorated with metallic braid
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