Kenneth R. Maclure
2003

Navigator, scientist

Native of Montreal, Kenneth Maclure began his career as air navigator within the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII. Named instructor at the Empire Air Navigation School (EANS) in England, Maclure elaborated in 1941 a theory proposing a system of polar navigation by grid (Polar Grid System) which revolutionized 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, baptized “Aries I”.

Maclure elaborated in 1941 a theory proposing a system of polar navigation by grid (Polar Grid System) which revolutionized aviation in the Arctic.

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. For this discovery, he was decorated with the AFC. In 1945 Maclure was also the first recipient of the prestigious “Thurlow Award” from the U.S. Institute of Navigation. Receiving in 1952 a doctorate in nuclear physics from McGill University, Maclure carried out afterwards some of the highest functions of research within several scientific institutes, in Canada and abroad. From 1958 untill 1961, Maclure was also the Air Attache to Poland. He retired in 1969 with the rank of Group Captain but continued in civilian life until 1979, as Superintendent of the Defence Research Establishment Pacific (DREP). Recognized for his modesty, Maclure was also very much involved with organizations helping handicapped persons.

Honors

1945 : Air Forces Cross (AFC)

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