C K M Douglas, meteorologist

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C K M Douglas  

 


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C K M Douglas OBE, AFC, MA (ex-Capt RFC), produced a pioneering paper on the uses of aeroplanes in the study of meteorology. There followed experimental flights in 1918/19 under the auspices of E Gold. After World war I, Douglas became one of the best practical meteorologists in England and the senior forecaster during World War 2. It was reported in 1920 (Meteorological Committee, 1920) that "Arrangements were made with the Royal Air Force for four Service pilots and machines to be detailed specially for meteorological work". It was recognised that upper-air information was vital to meteorological work and that there was an increasing demand for aircraft to operate out of sight of land and/or above cloud. By the 1930s, a special flight was based at Duxford for upper-air work. After the war, THUM (Thermal Upper-Air Measurement) and PRATA (Pressure and Temperature Sounding) flights from Worcester continued to record temperature and humidity in the upper atmosphere until the late 1950s.

Meteorological reconnaissance flying expanded considerably during World War 2, with routine flights continuing until the 1960s, when the flights code-named BISMUTH over the Atlantic from Aldergrove were discontinued. Research flying still continues, but aircraft are now rarely used for routine upper-air observations. In the 1930s, technical aids to navigation were in their infancy but, nevertheless, developing and leading to an increased need for wind, temperature and weather forecasts. These were necessary to allow aviators to compensate for nature's imposed deviations from straightforward compass and map following. Airlines needed to plan fuel and payloads accurately.

 

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Last modified: Saturday, 16 June 2018