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    Re: Long-range airplane navigation
    From: Derrick Young
    Date: 2004 Dec 2, 08:45 -0500

    This was a discussed on the list several years ago.  And, yes, I find it very 
    interesting - on two counts.
    My Dad was a pilot/flight engineer for Pan Am for many years.  When they first 
    got their 707's, the cockpit was set up with a tube that had sliding plates 
    that could be rotated from within the cabin.  This was to allow the periscope 
    of the sextant to be above the upper plate.  At that time, almost all of the 
    crews smoked heavily and there was no vent to clear the smoke.  Prior to 
    taking a sight, everyone would light up and enjoy.  When the smoke in the 
    cockpit was very heavy, it was time for the sight.  They would take a D-cell 
    battery, open the lower plate and shove it up - then open the upper plate.  
    This cleared out anything that became lodged in the tube as well as removing 
    the smoke from the cockpit.  For some reason that no one really understood, 
    the mechanics and Boeing reps did not figure out what was making the "strange 
    marks on the external surfaces and dents in the leading edge of the vertical 
    stabilizer assembly" - or if they did - no one said anything.
    When I worked for Boeing, Quantis placed their first orders for the 737.  An 
    interesting aircraft - that was not certified for flight more than 175 miles 
    from shore.  We had a problem - how to get the aircraft to Sidney - no long 
    range electronic navigation and insufficient range.  We solved this by 
    sending a couple of 737 interiors inside of a 747F (freighter) (company owned 
    - Boeing is still the largest owner/user of it's aircraft in the world) - 
    this gave us the space and capacity to solve the fuel problem.  We placed 
    extra fuel bladders in the body of the aircraft.  We would empty the fuel 
    bladders into the belly tanks as we flew and that provided enough range to 
    get to Hawaii.  Once there, refuel, change crews and go on.  As far as the 
    navigation was concerned, we removed an small portion of the aluminum plate 
    above the cockpit and installed a couple of layers of lexan.  Once the plane 
    was in Sidney, we would replace the lexan with the proper aluminum skin, 
    remove the b!
    ladders and install the interior.
    About that lexan plate - there was a navigator on board that carried a 
    sextant.  The plate allowed for star shots - they did quite well.  Never lost 
    an aircraft during that whole process.
    This is not an issue with the new series of aircraft (757/767/777 and the new 
    737's) - due to the redundant systems onboard.   The obvious reason is that 
    if the aircraft loses it's electricity - well, they will have bigger issues 
    to work than "where are we?"

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