Here’s a random snippet from Amelia Earhart and the Profession of Air Navigation by Roger Connor with the Aeronautics Department at the Smithsonian. The article makes frequent reference to Philip Weems, the author of the textbook.
By the time of Earhart’s disappearance, the necessity of training in celestial navigation touted by Weems, Gatty, and Hegenberger over the previous decade had finally been heeded by many with Lindbergh being the most prominent acolyte. Lindbergh was so convinced that in 1930 he had his wife, Anne Morrow, learn celestial navigation from Gatty in her third trimester of pregnancy and then demonstrate it on a transcontinental flight.
Lindberg spent a month studying celestial navigation under Weems in 1928. In a letter to Earhart dated May 1937, reproduced in the article, Weems expresses his desire for Earhart to undertake a short course in the subject, explaining that he had recently spent two weeks training Amy Johnson. Earhart’s navigator Fred Noonan had been trained in celestial navigation by Mary Tornich Janislawski, who created the lunar surface grid navigation system for the Apollo astronauts (1, 2), who was the west coast representative of and a principal instructor in the Weems System of Navigation. Weems was considered a mentor to Noonan. Weems’s most persistent contribution is probably the rotating 60-second bezel used for synchronising wristwatches.
What this makes you realise is that the “old” navigators were actually amazingly good.
They did have the benefit of people doing it on the seas, and they built on that, with every century that passed by.
Those methods worked within say 10 miles, which is ok for spotting a coastline from a ship, or for spotting land from a plane. But that was about it, as they discovered in WW2…