24 January 2000, 02:35 AM
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Let's not forget that navigation was exceptionally difficult compared to today. This is true for a number of reasons:
- The instruments in the planes were primitive at best. There was no way for a pilot to fly the plane based solely on instruments if he were to find himself in fog, clouds, night, or lousy weather.
- For most planes, there was no communication with the groud, and therefore, no groud control. IOW, there was no way to call home and get position fix. Also, the lack of ground control often resulted in crashes while planes were trying to land.
- There were no runway lights or navigation beacons, so pilots coming in at night had to reley on their comrads on the ground lighting barrels of fuel oil to mark the runway and fire flares in the air (Very lights) when they heard the planes, to notify the pilot of the aerodrome's location.
Now, the fact that most sorties (air missions) were flown during the day, in a relatvely small area (the planes only had fuel for 2 hours or so), during reasonably good weather, mitigted against some of these problems. But there were always pilots that would push their luck, or the weather would change, or they'd get lost, or something else would happen.
Oh, did I mention combat?
I hope this helps,
"Drew can talk -- by Jove, how the man can talk!" -- James Norman Hall in "High Adventure"