A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Position-Finding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2017 Aug 12, 15:31 -0700
David Pike, you wrote:
"I think you have to look at this in the context of the time. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 were produced between 1947 and 1953. People had just fought a long war in which air navigation had developed tremendously in both technique and volume. People were preparing for a bright new future in all areas of air navigation."
Ah yes, a "bright" future... A future of atomic mushroom clouds, glowing brightly. :) Of course, there were high hopes for civilian intercontinental air navigation and, although it happened quite a bit more slowly than expected, that positive future did eventually materialize. But I think it's also critical to remember that this was a militarist era, and the tables were militarist products of the Cold War. Government products, published with numerical designations, were not an inevitable outcome of this era. I do agree with you, one-hundred percent, that we have to look at these tables in the context of the time. And that context which led directly to H.O.249 was the "polar milk run" --delivering nuclear weapons to targets in the Soviet Union. We're all very fortunate that the tables were never used to deliver those weapons, but that is their origin story, in the context of the time.
"The production of the tables under one reference number probably wasn’t a woolly headed bureaucratic decision."
Not woolly-headed, I very much agree with that, but uniquely bureaucratic, and militarist, too. A numerical designation, like HO249 or AP3270 is not a title. The books do have titles, but those were never encouraged. They're ugly, dreary, confusing designations, and that's the point I was making before. We're stuck with those designations, and really it's a shame, since, as you note, the tables were a fine achievement. And that, of course, is why some celestial navigators still use them today.
Conanicut Island USA