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    Re: Sextant used on Graf Zeppelin
    From: Geoffrey Kolbe
    Date: 2010 Feb 14, 09:33 +0000

    Frank Reed wrote:
    >Finally, I'm attaching two photos (in one file) taken from two 1920s
    >issues of "Popular Mechanics" magazine. One shows the navigator
    >aboard Graf Zeppelin using a sextant in the arctic, another shows
    >sights being taken over the Pacific. It appears to be the same type
    >of sextant, and it could easily be the same navigator as in the
    >image captured by Geoffrey Kolbe. If so, then probably this was
    >Anton Wittemann who was navigator and later captain on German
    >airships for many years. He was in the control car of the Hindenburg
    >as an observer when it was destroyed at Lakehurst, New Jersey in
    >1937. Not only did he survive, he was not even injured.
    Thanks for that Frank.
    I find it curious that all the photos of sightings being taken with
    the Plath/Coutinho sextant on the Graf Zeppelin (that I have seen)
    show the index arm right back around the zero degrees altitude point
    - though in Arctic regions this might be understandable. I started
    wondering if the Plath/Coutinho sextant was actually being used to
    get an altitude (height-of-eye above the sea), free of the vaguries
    that changing barometric pressures would have on the altimeter, and
    then a boring old standard marine sextant was being used to get the
    celestial body altitudes using a dip for the measured height-of-eye?
    If the Graf Zeppelin was not a particularly stable platform, this
    approach may have given more accurate results. However, judging from
    the film footage of dinner on the Graf Zeppelin, with any number of
    Champagne bottles filling the tables without any hint that they would
    fall off, perhaps those air-ships were a pretty stable platform.
    Geoffrey Kolbe

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