Common Aircraft Navaids Used Throughout History

In aviation terms, a navigational aid, or a navaid, is a physical device on the ground that airplanes can detect and fly towards. This can be any type of object including a lighthouse, day beacons, fog signals, buoys, etc. It can also mean any item that pilots use to help find their coordination such as GPS systems, global navigation systems and other types of navigational aids. For a basic description on read on below:


Omega was the first global radio navigation system that became operational in 1971. It allowed aircraft to navigate using very low frequency radio signals from around the globe. At the time, there were 8 OMEGA transmitters placed around Earth. While there were plans to place more, they were eventually dismissed with the introduction of GPS and finally in 1997, the OMEGA system was shut down, as one of its stations in La Moure, ND, was converted to a US Navy submarine communication station.

Inertia Navigation System (INS)

The Inertial Navigation System system was originally developed for rockets, but by the 1960’s the INS had reached widespread usage in civilian and military aircraft for worldwide navigation. Its initial appearance was in the 1940’s when it showed up on the German V2 rocket that housed one of the first successful systems navigational aid systems.


Loran C, which utilized a network of land-based radio beacons to produce a long range accurate navigational system, gained popularity in the 1970’s. But like the OMEGA system, it too was made obsolete by GPS. While not completely obliterated, Loran-C operates in very few parts of the world. Get to know  more about best aviation navigation practises from here.

Celestial Navigation

Celestial Navigation is one of the oldest forms of navigation. It entails using a device called a sextant in order to determine the angle between the horizon and a star. The exact position was calculated with both the angle and the documented time that the angle was measured. 


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