These Strange Arrows in The Desert Helped Early Aviators


See these arrows? They appear like road signs from the air. But, believe it or not, they are meant to serve a similar purpose.

Navigation was a major problem in first generation planes made in the 1910s and 1920s. The pilots had no fancy radars, satellite-generated pictograph maps and even radio compasses to find their way with no weather forecasting available as well. Whenever the poor pilots encountered bad weather or night time, they couldn’t navigate through the areas that had similar topography like deserts and plains. Thankfully, some ingenious minds got to work and they created a simple workable solution.


They installed 70 feet long arrows pointing to the right direction along with a 50 feet high tower.


Pilots could spot the tower- arrow combination from sky easily just like ships spotted lighthouses. One arrow used to point to another one and so on. This formed sort of a path that ensured the pilot reached the nearest safe destination to get refueled or stay till the storm subsided.


After the invention of Radar and better cartographic techniques in World War 2, the arrow navigation system was rendered obsolete.

Many of them were destroyed or they just faded away with time. Only a few of them survived and are they are very disjointed now as a result.

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