Air Force Museum of Alberta

Kenneth Maclure

“Through his superior intellect and his devotion to duty, his accomplishments as a high latitude researcher and development of a practical polar grid navigation system, he has made a superb contribution to aviation in Canada’s polar regions and safer worldwide air transport operations.”

Kenneth Maclure

“Through his superior intellect and his devotion to duty, his accomplishments as a high latitude researcher and development of a practical polar grid navigation system, he has made a superb contribution to aviation in Canada’s polar regions and safer worldwide air transport operations.”

Kenneth Maclure

Maclure began his career as air navigator within the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII. He was named instructor at the Empire Air Navigation School (EANS) in England, where he elaborated on a theory proposing a system of polar navigation by grid (Polar Grid System) which would revolutionize aviation in the Arctic. At that time, radio beacons and other electronic navigation aids in the North were still many years in the future. By using the astro compass along with a network of lines drawn parallel to the Greenwich meridian, Maclure succeeded in thwarting the aberrations of the magnetic compass and the rapid changes of meridians in polar region.

The system was tested successfully in May, 1945 with a specially modified Lancaster bomber, named “Aries I”. The flights lasted nearly 19 hours, during which Maclure remained confined during long periods in the cold rear of the fuselage taking frequent navigation observations. The system imagined by Maclure stood out as the first real system of navigation by instruments in the polar environment, inaugurating a new era.

Born: 14 Oct 1914, Montreal, QC
Died: 28 Mar 1988
Awards: AFC, CD

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