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European ATC And Navigation In The 1930's  
User currently offlinemacsog6 From Singapore, joined Jan 2010, 530 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 7 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 1163 times:
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First of all, if this is not the proper forum, feel free to move. I also did a search and could not locate anything, but if this has been discussed, the Mods can feel free to delete.

The other night while flying right seat (private) on a rather long and boring (thankfully) flight, the pilot and I got talking about flying in the 1930's. From conversations with my grandfather - who learned to fly in World War One - and my father - who took to the air in 1932 - I had a pretty good idea of what it was like in the US flying about then. ATC and navigation relied a great deal on visual observation and nav aides were very basic.

We then started wondering about what it was like to fly in Europe then. With the nearness of the countries, the political differences that existed, and the weather that - at least for a good bit of the time - made visual observation of landmarks difficult, how was air traffic controlled and how did one navigate? We speculated that airfields sent out some sort of radio beacon that one could tune to home in on, but did they just descend through the clouds and hope they didn't hit anything? Were night operations undertaken? I seem to recall a photograph of an Imperial Airways HP.42 with the engines running that was lit by floodlights. Did they actually carry pax then?

In watching the History Channel, we had seen pictures of Chamberlain flying off to Munich to meet with Hitler in what looks to be a Lockheed 18 or something similar, Hitler flying around Germany in a JU-52 and later a Condor, and so forth. In many cases the footage taken in the air shows them above the clouds so they had to have some method of finding the airfield and landing.

Anyone have any understanding of how you flew across Europe in, say, 1935?


Sixty Plus Years of Flying! "I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Saint Ex
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