Feb 23, 2008

Now, that's embarrasing!

While doing some research I came across this little gem of a story from WWII regarding a German aircrew accidentally landing on an English airbase:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Woodbridge
On 13 July 1944, a Luftwaffe Ju-88 night fighter on North Sea night patrol landed at Woodbridge. This aircraft carried the FuG 220 Lichtenstein radar and FuG 227 Fensburg and FuG 350 Naxos homers which were being successfully used to intercept RAF bombers. The German crew had only just completed 100 hours of flight training and had flown by compass heading, but had proceeded in exactly the wrong direction and thought they were over their own airfield. Within days, the RAE had analysed the radar equipment and devised countermeasures.

I wonder if these flyers were really that bad at navigation? It was late in the war when I think, many young and inexperienced pilots were being pressed into front line service.

Mind you, pilots landing on wrong airports is nothing new!

1 comment:

Aviatrix said...

I've seen a pilot with about that much time, much more modern instrumentation, in daylight with clear visibility take up a course180 degrees opposed to the one marked on his navigational log. The fact that a large city and a huge body of water were plainly visible in front of him, did not deter him. Asked to verify landmarks with the chart, he happily misidentified some grossly different ones.

And at night it is easy to get lost. The world was a lot darker in 1944, too.

I would EASILY believe that a hundred hour pilot could get so lost that he would accidentally land in the wrong country. But I'd also believe that one would be smart enough to deliberately land in a country not known for gross mistreatment of prisoners.

I love these stories. I have some of my own to post later.