News Item

AA aeronautical chart, 1932

An AA Aeronautical chart of 1932 - the year the Tiger Moth was introduced. Few people realise that the AA had ever strayed so far from motoring

This is an extract from the HANG newsletter No 16 of August 2011 and is a report written by the Editor.

I recently came across a 1932 aeronautical chart; to put it in perspective that was the year the Tiger Moth was introduced. The chart caught my attention because it was produced by the Automobile Association Aviation Department. I did not even realise that the AA had ever strayed so far from motoring (and nor did Wikipedia). However I found that the AA had been active in aeronautical mapping for at least 1930-1940. ‘Flight’ magazine of 22 Jan 1932 published a map for planning of flights in Italy. It showed aerodromes, landing grounds and seaplane stations. The accompanying text gave credit for it being compiled by the Aviation Department of the Automobile Association.
I found an extract from ‘Flight’ magazine of 30 Mar 1939, This page contained the Royal Aero Club News and Special Notices. This time the AA Aviation Department had produced a map in support of the warning about a Marne danger area from between the dates of 15 Mar 1939 and 31 Oct 1939.. So, the AA was still active in Aviation charting in 1939.
However look at the next warning notice below which has nothing to do with the AA but everything to do with history. Just below the Marne warning comes a further warning: ‘Germany: A broadcast from Berlin announces that the air space above the Protectorates of Bohemia and Moravia is closed to all aircraft. A later broadcast also prohibits aircraft from landing in or flying over Memel territory (unless operating regular services)’. And we know that there were only 5 months left.

To revert to the chart that I found: it is of concertina construction, mounted on 7 boards, each of size 10in high by 5in wide. My chart is for the virtually straight line route from Basle to Frankfurt. Being assembled from rigid boards it is robust enough to use on your knees in an open cockpit and will probably not blow away. It is virtually a 1/4 million chart and the actual scale is 1:300,000.

The track is marked as three legs between points A to D; Basel is A, the two turning points are B and C and the destination Frankfurt is D. The first chart of the route has a box showing the local magnetic variation. Up the right hand side of the entire route there is a scale of distance yet to be flown and it counts down from 184 miles. Also on the RH side is a box at each point showing the heading of the True Magnetic track. Turn the chart round, for the return journey and you find new annotations on the new RH side of the chart.

There is more than this basic information on the chart. The chart is covered with “Cellanese Dope” so that it can be written on with pencil and ink and wiped clean. Aerodromes near the track are marked with a compass rose. Just lay a line from your position to the airfield and read off the desired track. Each airfield is marked by a 1/4in diameter circle divided into 6 sectors. Each sector indicates a facility at the airfield; for example if you need an aerodrome with workshop facilities then look for one with the lower left sector blocked in.

The track line carries little arrowheads at about 5 mile separation, see above. Each one points to a visible waypoint just off track such as a railway curve or a cross roads. Inside one cover board are conversion tables – particularly useful is the one giving times for 10 mile legs and the equivalent speed. Finally the outer covers carry airfield plans for Basle and Frankfurt.

A lot of thought must have gone into producing such a comprehensive navigation aide. That is, perhaps, reflected in the charge of 5/- for three weeks hire. Measured by average earnings that would be equivalent today to about £50 and, in today’s money, the deposit would be £100.

  • 19 October 2016
  • HANG

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