|Eyes and Ears of the Air -
How You fly Safely Through Cloud
Some time ago, I acquired a magazine from the late 1940s called "The Meccano Magazine". It was from the UK and was a bit like Popular Mechanics, having what seemed to be a similar objective of explaining in layman’s’ terms what could sometimes be complicated technical subjects.
On page 6 of this particular issue (Volume XXXlll no 1, of January 1948) *, there is an article entitled "Eyes and Ears of the Air - How You fly Safely Through Cloud". Don't forget that this was just a few years after the Second World War and that few except the military really knew what flying was all about.
(* when the page opens, click on it to zoom)
In fact, the first commercial trans-Atlantic flights through Gander started at the end of October 1945. While there had been of course commercial flights within continental areas such Europe and North America, “crossing the pond” was still the big challenge. This simplified article, explaining modern aviation navigation using air and ground instruments, therefore made interesting reading. More than likely, its real objective was to reassure the flying public or more precisely those who were considering this mode of travel.
The explications were well done, for example when they spoke of all the gyros in planes of the time. A gyro was compared to a top that stays stable, without variation, as long as it keeps up to speed. The use of ground-to-air communications was also emphasized, which brought them naturally to air traffic control.
What is very interesting is that to underline this function, they used for the photo the old tower in Gander, on what was known as the RAF side, on the west end of hangar 21. Ganderites of the period knew it well as a key architectural feature of the old airport. And back in the days when airport security meant only being careful not to walk into the prop of an airplane, visiting the tower was a common practice. Even young kids were welcome to visit if they minded their manners and kept from being underfoot.
It may not seem so today, but back in the late 1940s, Gander was, on certain days, perhaps the busiest airport in the world and Gander tower the key to keeping it from slowing down.