The Science of Air Navigation

Since childhood, going in an aero plane was always my dream. I used to wander up the sky and felt how lucky for all those who were flying somewhere, cruising at a speed of 800 km/hr as the aircraft kisses the clouds and zooms past the sky
The scientist in me used to wonder not only about the ingenuity of a huge 300 Ton Aircraft flying effortlessly in the sky but also about navigation. How did they ever figure out in which direction to fly.
In a road, we have a simple street map or directions symbols that indicate which roads leads to which area and so forth. Else one could simply ask a local guy about the shortest route to the destination or rather get a GPS enabled smartphone which will guide him through his current street coordinates with the help of Google/Bing Maps
But what navigational system does a flight have? Almost in every case, the flight simply takes a couple of hours to travel a distance of 2000+kms and currently lands at the exact destination in the exact runway zone. Driving a simple car itself can lead to so many navigational errors and we end up getting delayed. But how do these pilots fly in and out continuously and never miss a target nor result in a delay, unless caused by external weather conditions. How does one decipher the direction, route and altitude to maintain to ensure it’s a perfect flight? Yes we have air traffic controllers, controlled airspace monitoring and so forth but the precision used in this is quite astonishing
The explanation behind it would merely be a simple Satellite navigation system installed in a flight that monitors the flight path continuously and never lets it deviate from the original intended route. Yet the technology behind such an explanation can be mind boggling and quite literally “Rocket science” to the normal people
In early days of flights they followed directions with instruments as simple as a magnetic compass to confirm if you are indeed flying north or south , and also depended on celestial navigational tools for longer distance flights. A celestial navigational tool uses a celestial body such as moon or sun or any planet and the visible horizon to determine their position. These were then retired to be replaced by the Geo spatial and Satellite navigational systems which provided real time data continuously adjusted further by wind speed and air traffic in a given zone
The development of flight navigational systems sure has developed leaps and bounds to an extent that we as humans crossed the barriers of gravity and space. We landed on the moon, launched satellites into the sky and even recently sent a space exploration vehicle called Rover to planet Mars in search of earthly living conditions.

The recent launch of a space shuttle by Tesla further proves man’s passion and desire towards conquering the space too.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can  apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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