Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Historical First in Navigation

1940 marks the year in which Celestial Navigation becomes a reality for the first time in airline history. TWA pilots under Jack Frye begin ground breaking training classes that will enable them to fly a plane 'anywhere in the world"! This would greatly benefit the war effort ferrying cargo and troops over the ocean. TWA navigation engineer Peter Redpath is in charge of the new program in which the first pilots to be trained are Stratoliner aircraft pilots. It will be a streamlined version of oceanic navigation utilizing a sextant in conjunction with a chronometer watch and astronomical tables.


This is another first under Jacks visionary leadership that continued to propel TWA as the industry leader in long range airline travel, dependability and safety.

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Clipping courtesy WHMCKC

1 comment:

  1. This just in from retired TWA Captain, Michael Larkin.


    I'm a retired TWA Captain, after 34 years, spent my last eight years on the Boering 747 and we had a sextant port on the top of the cockpit...it was mostly used to vent the smoke for a flight attendant's cigarette after the No Smoking ban for crews took effect...you can imagine the stress of an 11 hour flight from JFK-TLV with 432 passengers demanding First Class treatment for coach fare! I let them smoke! And you can imagine the riot in the cabin if anyone swelled smoke!

    Prior to being hired by TWA in 1964, I was a B-47 co-pilot based in Tucson, AZ, and we had a celestial navigation leg around two hours on all of our missions..we pre-comped the stars during mission planning the day before, and, of course, I got to shoot the stars. It was amazingly accurate, each star was a two minute shot, and the sextant averaged out the lat- long...normally, our fix would be within 2-3 miles of our radar fix...we would shoot two fixes on the nav leg and plot them. Of course, in case of war, this would be our only means of navigation, there was no inertial or gps in those days.

    Jack Frye was very prescient with his celestial nav requirements...war was definitely on the horizon...I was very fortunate to be hired by TWA in 1964...they were looking for heavy multi-engine jet pilots because of the 707 coming on line..

    I enjoyed your article and the memories!

    Michael J. Larkin
    Captain TWA (ret.)