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    Re: CN Aboard Commercial Flight
    From: Larry Smith
    Date: 2012 Jan 17, 21:37 -0800

    Nice job, Greg. That must have been quite a sight, pun intended. I am a Captain for a major U.S. airline, flying the 737. Former AF Navigator. Got back into celestial nav. about a year or so ago just for the hell of it. It's been a fun experience. I have gotten fixes within 5 miles of the GPS position. I do everything old school. Almanac, HO-249s, MB-4 flight computer, and a Polhemus computer that Gary LaPook generously offered to me.

    I can tell you now, after reading a few books on the subject, studying my old manuals, and reading this board, that the Air Force didn't teach us squat about cel. nav. They taught us enough to barely get by. I wonder how many crews were lost during WWII because the Nav. made a math error and got his crew lost, and had to ditch. I'm amazed at how much I know now compared to when I was tasked to do it as a crewmember.

    What I do now is start out with a known position, plot it on the Polhemus plotting board, and then throw out a DR position. I then use that DR position to start my precomp. I try to pick stars at my 9 and 12 O'clock positions, or thereabouts. Sometimes HO-249 Vol. 1 does not give me stars with a good cut, or they might be too high. If this is the case, I have an old Navy 2102-D starfinder that I use to find other stars that will help me. Then I can use both Vol. 1 and the Vol. 2 or 3 to precomp the stars that work best. The windows you have to work with sometimes makes it very challenging.

    In reference to the reading I have done in the last year, the Bowditch manual can be kind of dry although it is loaded with information. I have read a very good book on polar navigation, Polar Air Navigation, by Greenaway & Gates. Also a fantastic book called Emergency Navigation, by David Burch. Good stuff.

    Would love to have you on one of my longer flights to compare fixes. But, you'll have to leave your I-phone celestial software at home, 'cause that's cheating;)

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