No matter how many advances we make in aviation, many things remain the same. The avionics we used today could be utterly foreign to someone who flew in the 1950s—but the troubleshooting tips still apply.
I was paging through a bound volume of back issues of AOPA Pilot, looking for a specific article, when I came across Nancy Narco. Quick history lesson: Narco Avionics used to be one of the names in aviation communications and navigation equipment, much as Bendix/King and Garmin are today. Your trainer might sport a Narco radio. You’ll likely see advertisements for Narco units on eBay and Barnstormers. The company went out of business in 2011.
Nancy Narco seems as though she might have been the Betty Crocker of avionics. She appeared in Narco advertisements in the 1950s and 1960s, running a sort of advice column (“Nancy Narco says”) alongside the main ad copy enticing readers to purchase transmitters, receivers, automatic direction finders, and whatever else was then state of the art.
My eye fell on this one from February 1959, titled “FAT.” Nancy wasn’t giving out weight management advice–she was sharing a memory tip on how to troubleshoot radio issues.
- F for frequency: Check proper channel and transmitter selector switch. (Nancy notes that “more and more aircraft” are equipped with two or more transmitters, so then—as now—it was a good idea to make sure you weren’t transmitting on Comm 2 instead of Comm 1.)
- A for audio. Check receiver volume and audio function switch to be sure you can hear OK.
- T for tuning. Be sure you’ve tuned the proper frequency—I think we’ve all done that at least once or twice.
Nancy is no more, but I like her common-sense approach. I’ll share some of her other words of wisdom in upcoming blogs.—-Jill W. Tallman
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