Flying the Furrow - Friday Fact - Baines Simmons
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Flying the Furrow – Friday Fact

Regarding last week’s Friday fact, navigating by following railway lines is a tried and tested practice but what happens when you set up a new route across the desert and there are no railways to follow?

When a new route was proposed in 1921 between Palestine and Iraq, the decision was taken to emulate a railway by ploughing a furrow through the desert.  Two teams were equipped with tractors and ploughs and they set off together, one from Baghdad and the other from Amman with the aim of meeting in the middle. Fortunately, the desert was hard, often stony ground, with little drifting sand and where it was too rocky to plough white lines were painted.  After 8 weeks the teams met and shortly after the service commenced. The crews called the route ‘Flying the Furrow’.

Once the service had been in operation for a while it was criticised by crews because of the amount of time spent following a straight line through a barren environment leading to boredom and fatigue; Human Factors?  Fortunately, radio beacons soon replaced the furrow circa 1927.