How Did Pilots Navigate In The Dark Before GPS?

 
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It was extremely difficult. The street lighting of towns and major roads would have provided some clues but during World War II, with blackouts over Europe, night bombers flew with a navigator who used the airspeed and compass bearing to plot a course on a map. Over water, some planes were fitted with a calibrated periscope sight that allowed them to measure their motion relative to wave crests and so compensate for a crosswind. Later ‘LORAN’ and ‘Decca’ radio stations were set up around the coast and planes could compare the timing of signals from different stations to triangulate their position.

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Even at night, the view out of the pilot’s window is still important for navigation.

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