A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2019 Aug 7, 11:49 -0700
Gary, you wrote:
"I visited the cockpit of a brand new C-130 with eight bladed propellers and had a discussion with the navigator. Celnav is alive and well in our airforce in 2019."
Alive and well? Barely breathing... still possible... yes. But the patient is on life-support.
There are many variants of the C-130. It's certainly true that it was among the last Air Force (usually National Guard) aircraft to be properly equipped with sextants, but every C-130 crew member I've spoken to in the last decade has said that they were no longer used after about 1995, even in training. Given the large number of models and very large number of aircraft, there are exceptions, and this model, an LC-130H with skis for arctic operations, would be exactly the model where you would expect to see celestial navigation making a last stand. But alive and well? Cough. No, but available on a tiny handful of aircraft using legacy gear. You can declare celestial alive and well when new sextants and new tables are commissioned The tattered condition of Pub.249 Vol.2 in your photo tells the real story. Did you happen to see a copy of Vol.3? Vol.2, pictured in your photo, won't even give a fix in Wisconsin, let alone Greenland! :) I wouldn't be surprised if they clear their arctic sights using an app, in practice, instead of those tattered tables. Some things have changed for the better since 1995.
Nonetheless, it's clear that the team present at Oshkosh last month were talking up their ability to use traditional celestial navigation, and that fact also made it into an online article about the aircraft and its mission from the EAA (EAA hosts the annual Oshkosh fly-in and airshow):
LC-130 Oshkosh: Summertime Skiing.