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50ft Beacons and Giant Concrete Arrows..USPS Navigation Pre WWII

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posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 07:21 PM
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I found this fascinating. Hope you enjoy.

In the early 20's the USPS Air Force used a navigation system that some would consider sketchy today but illustrates the resolve of its' time. A time when radio tech was lacking and compass/sextant weren't practical for flight.

The first generation of planes lacked radio technology, so they used arrows instead of towers to navigate.


Huge arrows made of concrete and gas powered light beacons scattered across the US from New York to San Francisco as a means of point to point flight mapping between coasts.


The beacons could be seen for miles and the arrows were up to 70ft long.


The Beacons/Arrows had a service shack on location and were numbered.

There are some Towers with their service shacks still standing and the article states there is an effort to restore some of these remaining pieces of history.


Sometimes I think so much of our history is just flat out lost. I appreciate the people who work to preserve this type of stuff.
Thanks for the time ATS.

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posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 07:24 PM
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Woah, that is totally cool! S&F!

I had no idea about any of that. "Hey, go THIS WAY!" LOL.

We take for granted these days how easily we can ship something from one place to another. If I order something on Amazon, I can have it the next day before dinner. Simply amazing!



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 07:28 PM
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a reply to: MystikMushroom

Glad you enjoyed it. I wondered if someone would be stationed in the shack or if it just housed the gas and parts to service the beacon. I'm still looking for that since I first read the article.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 07:32 PM
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Simple, just follow the arrow, but what happens when the fog comes down?



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 07:39 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk
Simple, just follow the arrow, but what happens when the fog comes down?


something like this...

www.dailymotion.com...



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 08:11 PM
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Flying by the seat of your pants
Pre radio direction was usually follow a road or railway line..Cool find thanks



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 10:18 PM
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Great thread howmuch4another.
I first learned of these arrows while on a cross country train trip a few years ago. One evening at dinner, I shared a table with a wonderful woman by the name of Nancy Pope, who, as it turned out, is the Head Curator of the History Department of the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum. Talk about someone who knows their subject! We talked for over an hour, and I consider it one of the most fascinating conversations that I've ever had. I have since learned that she is considered by many to be the country's leading authority on both the Pony Express, and the early days of air mail. She could quote the serial numbers of each of the Curtis Jennys that first carried the mail, as the museum was trying to find one of them for their collection.

She also told me the story about the origins of Jeppesen aeronautical charts , which were first just hand written notes and charts that pilots made about routes and facilities as they traveled, which they passed amongst themselves as a heads-up to one another as they made up the industry as they went along. She told me that they had located some of the original notes and first published edition of Elrey Jeppesen's book, which were still in possession of his family. They were reluctant to donate their treasured family heirlooms, but offered to have copies made, which they would happily donate.
Ms Pope's reply?
"We are The Smithsonian, we do not accept copies". HA!
I also talked to a friend just the other day who had come across the arrow and shack pictured above, on a recent cross country trip. She, like most folks, had no idea that these things existed, and was completely amazed to learn about them.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 10:23 PM
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They lost more pilots flying mail than they had in all of WWI.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 10:28 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
They lost more pilots flying mail than they had in all of WWI.


Well there's a "not so" fun fact...



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 10:31 PM
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a reply to: howmuch4another

It was the early days of flight, with unreliable planes, no way to navigate but sight, with some of the flights at night and in bad weather.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 10:31 PM
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a reply to: vinomech

I don't know how many are being preserved but I'm putting the New Mexico location on my list for the next trip there. Sounds like an entertaining dinner convo.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 10:45 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: howmuch4another

It was the early days of flight, with unreliable planes, no way to navigate but sight, with some of the flights at night and in bad weather.


For the era the Curtis "Jenny" was about as good as you could get. I read on wiki that they also flew the DH-4. I couldn't find stats on what models accounted for the most forced landings or crashes.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 10:47 PM
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a reply to: howmuch4another

They had so many different models flying it wasn't funny. The Jenny was the most popular, but after the war ended they had a fire sale on military aircraft, which is one reason the barn storming era exploded in 1919.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 11:24 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Good stuff Zaph. It sounds like even after they went mono wing and multi engine that was the case. A bunch of different models. We owe them for what has become the modern airlines. They commissioned the first heavy transports which spawned passenger travel. I am astounded at the budget dollars committed and the amount of mail delivery for the period. It was a huge commitment and still was a somewhat rag tag operation.



posted on Mar, 26 2015 @ 11:28 PM
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a reply to: howmuch4another

I'm still amazed at what they managed to do, with the equipment they had. Most of them knew there was a good chance they weren't coming back, and went out every day, day after day, to move the mail.



posted on Mar, 27 2015 @ 02:37 AM
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I saw these on some show not to long ago. Wish I could remember what it was. It is crazy that this ever existed but, I guess it worked for them.



posted on Mar, 27 2015 @ 09:47 AM
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originally posted by: MrSpad
I saw these on some show not to long ago. Wish I could remember what it was. It is crazy that this ever existed but, I guess it worked for them.


Cool. Maybe there are videos. I hadn't thought to look on YouTube. Do you remember if they mentioned locations by chance?



posted on Mar, 27 2015 @ 09:52 AM
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Thanks MrSpad for the prompting...




edit on 3/27/2015 by howmuch4another because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 27 2015 @ 10:00 AM
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a reply to: howmuch4another




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