In 1983, a GPS technology demonstration flight was conducted from Cedar Rapids, IA to the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. The goal was to perform an early demonstration of the application of GPS to civil aviation, an application that is ubiquitous today, but only beginning to be explored at that time. GPS was used to provide flight guidance for the trans-Atlantic flight terminating in a pre-determined taxi route to a parking point. Both a military code receiver and a civil code receiver using rudimentary differential techniques were demonstrated with the route guidance derived from the GPS position and velocity information integrated into the co-pilots displays. The following article, originally published in 1996, has been placed in the Institute of Navigation Virtual Museum (http://www.ion.org/museum/ ) to document that 1983 flight to the Paris Air Show.
The article, “1983 Historic GPS Flight Hinted at Today’s Innovations,” was published in GPS Solutions, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 13-21, 1996, and is presented with the permission of Springer Science+Business Media. (Link to the journal “GPS Solutions,” http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/geophysics/journal/10291 ) It provides an historical account of the preparation, execution, and results of the stop-and-go demonstration flight which took almost 4 days due to the sparse availability of satellites at that early time in GPS history.
The goal of that demonstration was to navigate an aircraft from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to the Paris Air Show in LeBourget, France. The trip was broken up into 5 segments, each only about 3-4 hours in length, as that was the length of the navigation windows formed by the only 6 satellites in orbit at that time. At the end of the transatlantic trip, taxiing and parking of the aircraft were accomplished using rudimentary, and previously undemonstrated, differential techniques. Four key capabilities of the system were demonstrated:
- Transatlantic navigation
- Increased Accuracy with the use of differential techniques
- Accurate land navigation and positioning
- Effectiveness of GPS as a commercial aircraft navigation system