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Navigator

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Failed pilot, also known as "talking baggage". On Nimrod, they apparently tell the Bus Driver what to do.

But most navigators are debonair intellectuals, the renaissance men of military aviation, as much at home with a Kalman filter or Greenwich hour angle as with a weapon system.

Don't forget that in the history of aviation it took but a few years to get the first automatic pilot into service, but approximately 70 years to produce an automatic navigator. This puts the relative difficulty and significance of the two jobs into clear perspective, I believe. Of course the difference between a GPS and a nav is that you only have to punch the coordinates into a GPS once.

As an illustration of how difficult the job is, try getting an RAF helicopter to drop you off at the correct grid reference. Actually, make that the correct grid square. They may go up-tiddley-up, but....

There is a very old RAF joke that serves to illustrate the perceived status of the navigator among the aviating community. A Wing Commander pilot is sitting down to supper when his nubile and voluptuous daughter runs in to the dining room and announces that she's just got engaged to a bankrupt hunchbacked HIV positive one legged Iranian Air Force navigator with leprosy and a glass eye.

Later that night in the mess a colleague approaches the pilot and comments on his downcast and miserable attitude.

"It's my daughter" he explains. "She's just got engaged to a navigator".