Copyright ©2009 by Paul Niquette. All rights reserved.
like almost everything else you might name, has been changed forever by
Solvers will remember earlier challenges in navigating, whether on city
streets or country roads or in trackless forests all now made into trivial
exercises by GPS.
Here is a puzzle we will use to introduce an essential navigation concept for solving the most famous mystery in aviation history (see Which Way, Amelia?)
Depicted in the diagram is the schematic of the plan for a flight by dead reckoning from an airport in the south across a large body water for a landing at an airport located close to the coastline. A point-to-point course line has been drawn. Diverging lines indicating the maximum expected navigational error attributable to unknown winds aloft and to steering errors.
Also shown are the limits of visibility expected as the
aircraft reaches the shoreline. If the intended course is maintained,
all will be well and good. Near the extremes in navigational errors,
however, the airport may not be visible. The pilot must decide which
way to turn. A wrong decision will cost extra flying time and fuel
-- if indeed there is enough fuel remaining after the crossing for traipsing
up and down the coast looking for the airport.