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After difficulties in its flight tests and subsequent modifications, Rl 01 was provisionally certified as airworthy and prepared for the first of the “Empire flights” to India. Without adequate testing and trials of the later modifications, RlOl took off on October 4, 1930. After crossing the English Channel to France, it crashed near Beauvais. At first the rigid dirigible seemed to be more promising than heavier-thanair craft for long-haul air transport. In the early 1930s the success of the Gruf Zeppelin tended to reinforce this conclusion; yet even discounting the disasters of RlOl and Hindenburg, the rigid dirigible did not become the dominant type of aircraft for long-haul (especially transoceanic) commercial transport.

Since both military combat and- air transport aircraft were operating over great distances at sea, the Office of Scientific Research and Development in the War Department set about developing an electronic navigational aid which was entire1 -, passive: that is, the ship or pla e which used it emitted no signal which would reveal its position to the enemy. Loran was the -answer. Bv, dav,/ airplanes or ships could get a Loran fix the Loran up to 700 miles from stations. At night they might get a fix as far as 1,400 miles from the transmitting (because of more stations favorable atmospheric conditions).

Once aloft, the balloonists would either signal information to the ground with flags, especially when spotting Union artillery fire on Rebel defenses, or telegraph their observations to the local headquarters. The Confederates March 1978 tried to hinder the constant surveillance of their movements by screening the deployment of troops; by using no campfires at night to foil attempts to estimate the size of their forces by counting campfires; or by attempting to shoot down the balloons. Aeronauts began to experiment with towing their balloons on barges to increase the mobility of their aerial observation posts.

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A History of Sea-Air Aviation - Wings Over the Ocean


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