I'm reading the BBC's How Fiji changed the way we travel; The little Pacific island nation was the first to incorporate GPS into its aviation system – and in doing so forever changed the way we get from Point A to distant Point B. and saw this photo of a spacious navigator's station with a large, elegantly designed desk, bay windows, and a small set of instruments.

What aircraft and timeframe was this? Does the photo portray a commercial flight?

bonus points: Were flare guns routinely stored out in the open like that at the time?

enter image description here

Until the late 20th Century, flight crews often included a flight navigator whose job it was to keep the plane on course (Credit: Museum of Flight Foundation/Getty Images)

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    $\begingroup$ Who else noticed the pistol in the bottom left corner? Uh, it's a flare gun . $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Bimpelrekkie the OP noticed it, it's a flare gun, that's why they asked about it as their bonus points question $\endgroup$
    – dkwarr87
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 10:19
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    $\begingroup$ On the bonus question: flares were often used for communication between planes, sometime even when all planes in the formation had radio (to the point that new flare systems had to be designed for high altitude pressurized bombers at the end of WWII). Given the number of cartridges right under the flare gun, I think it is indeed for communication and not just for distress signaling, so you would probably want it readily available. $\endgroup$
    – Luris
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Luris tell us more! Did aircraft flying in formation ever use flares to communicate with each other? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ Well the desk certainly does look luxurious and elegant, so your humour went straight over my head. I guess sarcasm and facetiousness have never travelled well by 'Net... $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


It's a Boeing 314 flying boat.Boeing 314 flying boat From the late 30s (look at the two rectangular windows behind the cockpit).

The last dedicated navigators on long range flights had started to disappear by the late 60s in the airline business.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, where is that? It looks like Lake Washington but I can't find clicking through the links. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 18:02

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