Before there was GPS, there was LORAN (LOng RAnge Navigation).
The Piper Archer II with which I was associated before N631S joined our family had a Northstar M1 LORAN-C receiver in its panel - a very nice and very useful piece of kit.
The LORAN didn't have a moving map, and it wouldn't tell you your position with a Circular Error Probability of 15 feet (more like a couple 10ths of a mile). But it was a wonderful aid to situational awareness under both VFR and IFR rules. I liked it very much.
In accordance with the DHS Appropriations Act, the U.S. Coast Guard will terminate the transmission of all U.S. LORAN-C signals effective 2000Z 08 Feb 2010. At that time, the U.S. LORAN-C signal will be unusable and permanently discontinued.
In the last couple of years there has been much discussion about the potential that an enhanced LORAN system (the so-called "eLORAN") would have as a backup to GPS. There are worries about the ability of the Air Force to keep the GPS satellite constellation fully populated, and the FAA is very desirous of shutting down most (or all) of those expensive-to-maintain VOR's. But the Coast Guard is taking the position that:
If a single, domestic national system to back up GPS is identified as being necessary, the Department of Homeland Security will complete an analysis of potential backups to GPS. The continued active operation of Loran-C is not necessary to advance this evaluation.
I'm sure that the old LORAN-C equipment has become devilishly difficult and costly to maintain, and that there is a very good rationale for pulling the plug on it. But that does leave us with a lot of our eggs in the GPS basket. We had better watch that basket really closely. And I expect that as long as N631S and I are flying together I'll be dialing in VOR frequencies as backup to GPS navigation.
So let us bid a fond farewell to the faithful LORAN-C system. It had a good run and, who knows? Someday we might see the technology resurrected in modernized form.