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Thread: Should we Still Teach Old Tech???

  1. #1
    Buster1's Avatar
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    Should we Still Teach Old Tech???

    Is old tech still worth teaching? A brief article that discusses this while looking at the "old school" E6-B.

    Thanks for looking.

    http://engineout.weebly.com/articles...ave-a-dinosaur
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    Wizz wheel never needs batteries and if you don't know how to manually solve the problem, how will you be sure the electronics are giving you valid info?

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    For you guys who flew a lot before the advent of smart phones, tablets and even electronic calculators designed specifically to replace the E6B, it can be useful... and maybe a comfort to have along. It's like the decade old Rand McNally road atlas that sits untouched in the back of my truck, "just in case". No one will ever use it again, but it's a last ditch backup we both know how to use. Never mind that anyone under 40 probably wouldnt recognize it.

    I learned to fly at 52 years of age. I bought the required E6B and got more or less proficient witn it. I had no choice, since the trainers had no EFIS, no GPS and I didn't own and would not have been allowed to use a tablet. But... I don't think I've touched it since taking my checkride. For the first couple of years I carried it along in my flight bag, but haven't ever needed, wanted or missed it. Not even once, not even a little bit. I don't carry it now for the same reason I don't carry a surgical kit. The odds of needing it are vanishingly small, and I lack the proficiency to use it in a meaningful way anyway. I have never suffered a simultaneous failure of my GPS, phone and tablet, despite the dire predictions of the flying related web boards.

    Is it still worth teaching? That's a separate question. I mean, they still teach slide rules in school, and middle school students are still not allowed th use calculators, right? Oh... wait. Never mind.
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    Schools these days are debating whether to teach cursive (some have quit). You're asking about E6B. Same principal, in my mind; both are useful skills to have, and sooner or later you'd wish you had the relevant skill.

    Larry N.

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    The Navy last year, started requiring all midshipman to learn celestial navigation, and is going to be doing the same for NROTC members.

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    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    I'm preparing a 20-part Youtube series on care and maintenance of whale-oil lamps.

    Generally, there's little reason for retaining outdated technology and the ability to handle it. Vacuum-tube test stands disappeared from stores about 30 years ago, and you don't hear the populace whining about it.

    The problem with modern methods is that they don't reinforce an intrinsic knowledge of the subject. Saw that when electronic calculators replaced slide rules. Hard to operate a slide rule without a *feel* as to what the results should be...a person punching numbers on a keypad doesn't have a clue.

    The "Doomsday" scenarios are mostly bogus. No, we shouldn't force EE students to take a year of vacuum-tube theory just because a megawar may force them to fall back on making vacuum tubes for stereo amplifiers.

    Military, though, is the exception. If there's electronics in a weapon system, it can be exploited, jammed, spoofed, or just die when the batteries go flat. The USN and celestial navigation is a prime example of this. In a wartime situation, you aren't going to be able to depend on GPS being available, nor the bad guys not warping the signal (like Iran got that drone of ours) or even detecting your presence due to emissions from your GPS set. The WWII German radar warning receivers were a classic example of the latter.

    Ron Wanttaja

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    I think knowing that 60mph is one mile per minute and 120mph is two miles per minute is close enough for VFR.
    Last edited by Bill Berson; 09-03-2017 at 03:28 PM.

  8. #8

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    Ron hit on the point I am going to make.

    We encountered the same thing in the Artillery, where manual "charts and darts" for computing the charge, quadrant, and deflection of the guns was replaced by computers, and even in land navigation, where paper maps, coordinate scales, and a compass has given way to GPS.

    The answer is that one should learn the E6-B, paper charts, and all the fun that entails to take the mystery out of what the magic box is doing. Understanding what manual procedures the box is automating means that if it ever spits out garbage one can recognize it for being garbage. It also teaches the relationships between direct course, heading due to wind, and even kts to mph.

    Now when the pilot plugs in the end point to a cross country he can look at it and put in logical waypoints, understanding that yes, he really does need waypoints.

    Learn to navigate with a sectional and the habits of comprehending where one is on the magenta line are established.

    [edit]

    Bill, you've hit on my methods! Since I cruise at about 60 mph, figuring cross country stuff gets a bit easier. I just have to convert wind given in knots to MPH.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

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    Not gone to flight school.....yet....... but I think I can relate to a valid analogy. I scuba dive recreationally and am also certified for Nitrox use. Yes I 'can' plan a dive using the dive tables and gas absorption charts..... I had to learn to do so in the classroom to pass the written tests. But in my experience virtually NOBODY dives without a dive computer strapped to their wrist or attached to their BC hose that calculates that important life essential data in real time and real depth and which doesn't make a paperwork error or forget a decimal place. Now 'could' a properly serviced piece of dive electronics fail? It's possible but highly improbable.

    I can see some value in being able to understand the basic principles involved and how they relate to each other, but if an electronic E6B or other flight data App can provide the correct answer with simple inputs? Why wouldn't a pilot be taught to use the modern technology they will actually find used in the cockpit? I am making the assumption that the goal in aviation is to calculate the correct course to fly, for the expected time, consuming fuel as intended and allowing for variance in wind speeds and direction. If that goal is achieved electronically I don't much fret over 'how' the computer did it. When I microwave a frozen TV dinner, I don't care 'how' that machine works either, I just need to know how to work it to achieve the desired result.

    I recall reading a long time ago an article by a pilot who stated he flew IFR, by which he meant "I Follow Railroads". I'm an old geezer Luddite to be sure, but I have come to learn to trust very affordable digital gizmos like GPS, smart phones, and sophisticated software (aka Apps) as being the better mousetrap.

  10. #10

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    The E6-B is nothing more than a circular slide rule. It's not rocket science, though it's often taught that way - or rather not taught. The student is told to "follow the instructions" which, depending on the manufacturer of the slide rule, can read like radio instructions. As I have zero pride when it comes to all things flying, I freely admitted that it was all gibbly-gook and I was lost, and my instructor broke it down into simple terms.

    The big thing about the E6B and a paper sectional is that it's tactile. Making a mark on the back side in the little transparent wheel for the course, then adjusting the wheel for crosswind and making another mark shows the relationship between course and heading in a visceral way. For a lot of people learning hands on is the best way to comprehend concepts like that.

    Do I use my E6B? No, I don't, unless I want to convert kts to mph accurately. Loads of stuff it does is neat but almost irrelevant in today's aviation environment. However, it can come in handy. My airport's automated weather station is FUBAR right now, giving only visibility and wind, and the grumbling mumbles from the airport manager does not give one hope it will be fixed soon (it's been that way for two months now, with a bonus that it also jams my crappy flip cell phone on that end of the runway, making it impossible to dial out to make a call). So today just for fun I calculated density altitude, and checked my result against an airport ten miles away at the same ground altitude....and was just about dead on. My little plane doesn't care that my 528 feet above sea level runway was actually at 2,500 feet due to heat and humidity, but it might matter to someone else starting a long cross country close to max weight.

    I'm a mix of old and new tech in my cockpit. Yes, I have a little smart tablet with true GPS and the iFly app on my right thigh; it's so inexpensive that it's almost dumb not to have it. I also have a sectional on my left. Overkill? Probably. But the screen on the tablet is small, and the sectional gives me context to the terrain ahead, behind, and to the sides. Plus I have an open cockpit and more than once sun has shone on the screen, making it unreadable.

    Don't knock landmark referencing for navigation (IFR - railroads, roads, and rivers), as in short cross country (or even longer ones, thanks to the interstate) they can greatly simplify things. For example, if I want to fly from my airport, which is east of Birmingham, Alabama to, say, Fort Payne, AL or Chattanooga, TN, I could do a lot of super planning with a nice magenta line. Or I could fly North by Northwest up the Coosa river until it hits Gadsden, AL, fly NW until I hit I-65 and follow it due north until I hit either one. I'm right on I-20, so if I were to fly to West Georgia or into the super veil of Atlanta, the magenta line is going to put me right over it anyway.

    Bear in mind that most of the guys talking about navigating this way are in "low and slow" type aircraft. My cruise speed in my Nieuport 11 is 60 MPH, and I rarely fly higher than 5,000 feet AGL. Mac flying his Baron, using oxygen and saying things like flight level isn't thinking "the big peach water tower is my halfway waypoint to SRFI in the lower third of Alabama."

    Then again, I've had the pleasure of having BOTH glass panels on a FlightDesign CTLS go blank - completely powered down - on the takeoff climb. From full instrumentation to just the whiskey compass in a blink of an eye. It's not as scary as it sounds - it was extreme clear daytime VFR - and one doesn't need all that crap to actually fly the airplane. My instructor pushed some buttons on it to reboot the darned things, and I just went around and landed normally. Turns out it was some sort of ground wire problems, though that doesn't explain why the backup batteries weren't working (or maybe they were being used the whole time?).

    If I were alone and on my way cross country and that happened, knowing where I was and big, helpful aids like roads and rivers would come in mightily handy.

    I haven't done long division by hand in a long time, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't teach the rote way of doing it in an age of calculators and smart phones.
    Last edited by Frank Giger; 09-03-2017 at 11:24 PM.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

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