VeryBumpy

Actual 1960's flight plans?

Recommended Posts

Is there any resource for actual, older flight plans; 50's, 60's and early 70's?

More specifically, I'm looking for late 60's DC-6 flight plans between New York and Europe (most likely stopping at Iceland).

Thanks for any help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

I flew (as a passenger) on PAA Clipper John Alden in 1955.

Flight plan:

London, England - Shannon, Ireland - Gander, Canada - Detroit, USA

Two refueling stops to make it from London to Detroit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, hamoody said:

This site might be of use: http://www.departedflights.com/

Thanks but these are schedules, not plans. I've found many older schedules but its the actual plan I'm looking for.

You know the actual point to point plan of the route they followed listing the VOR's/NDB's, frequencies, distances between each, times, flight level, fueling/pax stops, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe the fact that they had a navigator as part of the flight crew tells you something..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Bert Pieke said:

Maybe the fact that they had a navigator as part of the flight crew tells you something..

++1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Bert Pieke said:

Maybe the fact that they had a navigator as part of the flight crew tells you something..

Really, is that how they did it in 1969, no highway in the sky path they were supposed to follow? They just stayed at the proper altitude and it was close enough? Surely the departure airport must have supplied some paper route to try and follow?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say know how to fly using an adf. Also VORs. I'm sure that's all they had back then for enroute planning.

 

Take this with a huge grain of salt. Maybe someone else can enlighten us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since there were no satellites up in space until 1957, when Sputnik 1 was launched, and really not that many dedicated to civilian navigation until quite a way into the 1970s, there was quite simply no up-to the minute accurate weather reports from anything other than ships at sea and other aeroplanes en-route, so sending an airliner on a pre-determined route where you could be sure the weather wasn't going to be a problem was not really possible. It was still common in the 1960s for aeroplanes to 'pick their way through the clouds' and use information from weather ships and other aircraft ahead of them along their proposed route, so 'reporting in' and chatting to other aircraft was something pilots and navigators had to do (assuming the much less reliable radios of the era were functioning). Weather ships operated from the late 1940s until around the mid 1980s, although their use was declining in about the mid-1970s. See this link for some weather ship locations and their signals etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_ship

From that, you will be unsurprised to learn that most oceanic routes were planned to be along a line where the weather ships would be. The fact that there were less aeroplanes in the skies in those days means the risk of collision was less, but it was not unknown, even over land and in relatively clear weather. For example, a TWA L-1049 Super Constellation and a United Airlines DC-7 collided over the Grand Canyon in 1956 when they were both flying the same route and deviated from their expected routes. The reason they did that is because, in the 1950s and 60s, flying was still something of a luxury, but fuel was cheaper then and so it was expected that pilots would give their passengers a good show and could happily use a bit more fuel, thus it was quite common for airliners to 'take in a few sights' along their routes in order to please the passengers and until this and a few other collisions occurred as more commercial flights began to happen, the airlines actually wanted pilots to do that sort of thing, a side benefit of this practice was that if you were 'taking in the sights' the navigator would be able to accurately plot your position and could also get a bit of a clue as to how drift had been affecting the flight up to that point.

We tend to think this sort of less precise navigation is all 'a bit WW2', but even until relatively recently (around 2000), North Atlantic tracks for airliners were often determined by a Met Office C-130 (nicknamed 'Snoopy') on the UK side of the pond, and similarly-equipped aircraft on the US side (you can tell these aircraft by their long red and white probes which stick out from their nose). Such aircraft used to fly out over the ocean every day to see what the weather was doing, with that info it was possible to plan the tracks for aeroplanes crossing the Atlantic and Pacific each day. Needless to say, it wasn't always super accurate.

Back in the 1960s of course, it was even more primitive, there was certainly no GPS and most land-based radio nav aids would be completely out of range by around 150 miles. There were some systems such as LORAN (long range navigation) which could be used to cross reference multiple signals and get a position, but even with its massive tall antennas, LORAN was still limited to a few hundred miles in range (often less at night), and it required expensive equipment too, so it was more often used by the military or more affluent airlines. Even then, using LORAN was a bit of a dark art, with some operator skill necessary to determine what the signals meant since they were susceptible to interference, so the radio operators and navigators on a 1950s/60s airliner were pretty essential members of the crew.

It's not for nothing that 1960s and 1970s airliners had perspex domes in their cockpit roofs and occasionally a glazed nose section too (a feature still common on 1970s and 1980s airliners in the Easter Bloc). Such domes and windows were for taking celestial observations, whereby you could 'shoot' two stars in quick succession with a bubble sextant and determine your position from that, but of course 1960s prop airliners could not always get above the clouds to make this possible, so many of them would also have a drift meter, this was a bit like a bombsight in the floor of the aeroplane which was equipped with a rotatable lens that featured engraved lines on it, if you rotated the lines in order to have them track along a ground feature, you could determine the amount of drift you were experiencing and then use that information on an E6B 'flight computer'. Military aircraft could also drop smoke 'bombs' on a parachute to help determine drift too. Of course, later on you also have gyroscopic inertial navigation systems, which calculate the amount of drift and can be used to give a reasonably accurate position report, but they were by no means perfect either. Military submarines still use this method to navigate silently underwater, although they can float an antenna every once in a while to get an updated fix for such equipment.

The skies in FSX/P3D are accurately modeled and there is a sextant gauge for FSX (search for FSX bubble sextant), so it is certainly possible to simulate these methods in FS. The Plane Design Avro Lancaster has a bubble sextant as a gauge, as do a few other add-ons for FSX. Dunno whether these work in P3D. Tutorial on how to use a bubble sextant in FS here:

All these techniques (tuning in radio stations, making celestial observations, reading drift and using an E6B) would be combined to allow you to use 'dead reckoning' (more properly called 'ded reckoning' since the 'ded' part is short for deduced). Techniques for more remote areas, such as deliberately flying an offset to your expected landfall when over the ocean and then turning and flying along the coast until you found a river inlet were not unknown for airliners. You'd deliberately offset a long way so you could be fairly certain which side a prominent river would be on when you made landfall. Some of this is still very occasionally done in more remote areas of the globe where nav aid reception is poor or unavailable, for example, some parts of central Africa, and the polar regions. Military pilots still have to learn that stuff too, since in warfare, navigations systems can of course be jammed by an enemy.

Have fun.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Chock said:

Since.... so sending an airliner on a pre-determined route where you could be sure the weather wasn't going to be a problem was not really possible.

<snip tons of great stuff>

Have fun.

Mega thanks for the reply. I did not realize the pilots/crew had such navigation or flight plan leeway back then.

Looks like I'll just set my favorite planner (Ideal Flight 10) to VOR/NDB and let it do its thing. Then when flying, I'll do lots of nail biting ded reckoning as needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Assuming you can still access a GPS in the sim aircraft you're flying there'll be a magenta line from VOR to VOR etc.but you might class that as cheating. However, it may be useful for a quick peek once you've bitten off all your nails flying to and from VOR radials :D

Bumpy - if you remember the old Flight Assignment ATP sim from sub Logic, you had to navigate using VOR radials and DME to stay within the airways in the sim (you had paper maps of the airways, and all the approach charts for the airports in the sim!)

Thanks for that detailed insight into navigation Alan, especially the sextant video link. I look forward to watching it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone know the typical cruise altitude of transatlantic flights in a DC-6?

 

I'm guessing they would try to fly at the most fuel efficient altitude but I'm not sure what that would be in this plane.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now