When Amelia Earhart took off in 1937 to fly around the world, people had been flying airplanes for only about 35 years. When she tried to fly across the Pacific, she – and the world – knew it was risky.

She didn’t make it, and was declared dead in January 1939. In the 80 years since then, many other planes have been lost around the world and never found again – including the 2014 dematerialization of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, over the Indian Ocean.

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As flight advisers and aerodynamics industry professionals, we know that more avant-garde technologies are accepting better at tracking planes, even across great expanses of water far from land. These systems allow aircraft to cross much more easily, and many allow real-time flight tracking across much of the globe.

Getting from place to place

From the early years of aerodynamics up until about 2000, the main way pilots navigated was by arena connect-the-dots across a map.

They would use radio direction-finding accessories to follow a route from an airport to a radio-transmitting beacon at a fixed location, and then from beacon to beacon until extensive the destination airport. Various technologies made that action easier, but the abstraction was still the same. That system is still in use, but decreasingly so as new technologies alter it.

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