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    Re: Pilot avoids collision with Venus
    From: Gary LaPook
    Date: 2012 Apr 18, 10:25 -0700
    The first time I went to Europe, I took off from Newfoundland in the middle of the night, taking the route to the Azores which is the popular route when weather makes the shorter, northern route, iffy. About an hour after takeoff I started seeing lights ahead of me and I immediately thought, OMG, OMG OMG, I must be way off course, I'm heading towards a large city, I must have gotten turned around somehow. I checked my DG, still 145° and the compass too. The ADF needle was still five degrees right of the tail (I had a crosswind from the right) and this heading had kept me on the 139° radial of the Torbay VOR until I had lost its signal. This was like something out of the Twilight Zone, it didn't make any sense. As I got closer I could see the city spreading out almost horizon to horizon, WHAT IS GOING ON? When I got very close I recognized that I was looking at the the Grand Banks fishing fleet with their bright deck working lights (kinda like stadium lights.)


    --- On Wed, 4/18/12, Robert Eno <enoid@northwestel.net> wrote:

    From: Robert Eno <enoid@northwestel.net>
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Pilot avoids collision with Venus
    To: NavList@freelists.com
    Cc: NavList@fer3.com
    Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 8:02 AM

    In the early 1990s, I was returning home on a Hawker Siddley 748, carrying about 15 drums of hazardous materials that we had cleaned up from an old military site. Because it was a freigher, I was seated in the cock pit just behind the pilot and co-pilot. 
    Being winter, it started to get dark at around 1400hrs as we were en-route home. A very very bright light was visible on the SE horizon and this precipitated an interesting exchange between the pilot and co-pilot about the identity of the light. They were confounded and trying to figure out what community it was. None of it made sense to them because the nearest community was still a few hundred miles distant. This went on for about 5 minutes and I finally piped up over the microphone: "it's Venus". 
    A few days after the flight, I sent to the pilot and co-pilot, a little blurb on how to use the astro-compass and how to identify stars and planets for purposes of maintaining a heading in the absence of electronic aids. I also strongly advised them that it was in their best interest to learn a few of the old tricks which held their predecessors in good stead for decades. I perhaps came off sounding pedantic and this probably explains why I never received an acknowledgement from the pilots. Perhaps they too offense at some know-nothing puke telling them how to do their jobs.
    At one time in the north, mastering the use of an astro-compass and having a basic knowledge of celestial bodies was required of all pilots. I don't believe that this is the case anymore. I am not a pilot so I am not privy to what is and what is not mandatory for flying in the Arctic. I travel a lot by plane as a part of my job and I can tell you at least, that it has been quite some time since I have seen an astro-compass mounted on the dash of small aircraft.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Geoffrey Kolbe <geoffreykolbe@compuserve.com>
    Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 2:23 am
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Pilot avoids collision with Venus
    To: NavList@fer3.com

    > At 06:32 18/04/2012, Bill B wrote:
    > >I do not know if cel nav is a requirement for a commercial
    > pilots license these days, but I would think a fundamental
    > knowledge of the position of heavenly bodies might come in handy
    > for the pilot of any craft.
    > Hmm. There is a lot of hype about this, mainly centred on a
    > "disoriented and groggy" pilot who has just woken up, making a
    > call about what looked like the lights of an oncoming plane, and
    > considered that there was no time to make further checks about
    > what else it might be before taking avoiding action.
    > Let us change the scenario a bit. Let us suppose the plane had
    > been on autopilot and the human pilot had been on a walk-about
    > amongst the passengers (as used to happen once upon a time) and
    > came back into the cockpit to see a bright light dead ahead.
    > Now, we have a pilot who is awake and alert, being confronted
    > with what he thinks is a plane on collision course within
    > seconds of impact. What is he to do...?
    > I would be interested to hear what Gary would think about this one.
    > Geoffrey
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