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Kane Dead Reckoning Computer

By Murray Bourne, 16 Sep 2006

I came across an interesting series of articles recently titled "Manual Calculation - Using a Slide Rule" (link no longer available).

The author, Mark CC says...

I know a lot of people think that the idea of learning to use something like a slide rule is insane in an age of computers and calculators, and that this is a silly thing to post about.

My strong view is that a lot of adolescent mathematics students really struggle because (to use simplistic Piagetian notions) they are still at the concrete operations level and they have not fully progressed to the formal operations stage necessary for abstract thought.

So any kind of device or approach that helps to make mathematics more concrete and visual should be applauded - or at least tried out.

The Kane Dead Reckoning Computer

The discussion on slide rules reminded me of my private pilot days. I was required to buy the (unfortunately named) Kane Dead Reckoning Computer. This was a very clever device that helped in the calculation of:

  1. Time, ground/air speed and distance problems
  2. Fuel consumption
  3. Altimeter and airspeed corrections (for atmospheric pressure and temperature variations)
  4. Airspeed corrections
  5. Density altitude
  6. Drift correction (if you find yourself off course)
  7. Conversions (the flying world uses a confusing plethora of units - nautical miles, knots, km, U.S gallons, Imperial gallons, litres, feet, pounds, kg)
  8. Wind and plane velocity vector problems (hence the name "dead reckoning")

Images courtesy of Greg's Slide Rules.

The circular sliderule face of the Kane computer:
Dead reckoning 1

Detail showing how to do a time/distance/speed calculation:
Dead reckoning 2

The reverse side of the computer showing the windspeed/true direction linear slide. You would put a dot (using pencil) on the translucent circular dial indicating the wind speed and direction, then slide the large metal plate to find your true direction. This plate could be reversed for larger speeds.
Dead reckoning 4

Footnote: I was given an electronic flying calculator which I always carried as a spare - but it was never as easy to use as the Kane computer. This was because the Kane is a visual instrument - the electronic one was nowhere near as intuitive. And besides, with the Kane computer there was no need to worry about the battery dying!

See the 34 Comments below.

34 Comments on “Kane Dead Reckoning Computer”

  1. John Melverton says:

    I too have a Kane mk-6b it in its original box & has never been used. I would like to know if there is any one who would like to purchase it

  2. Murray says:

    Hi John

    I hope you manage to sell your Kane computer. I guess most pilots are using hand-held GPS now, and the demand will be less. (Is that true? I haven't been flying for some years now.)

  3. Mike says:

    I just found my Uncle's MK6B, and it is much nicer than the ASA E6B. Having just finished ground school the Kane device is better for CAS-TAS and Density Altitude calculations as the temperature scale in the little window for Air Speed correction has negative values on the left of zero.

    I cant count the number of times I screwed that up with the E6B, as it has negative values right of zero...

  4. Murray says:

    You've raised an important usability point, Mike. When flying, we don't have time to perform unnecessary mental gymnastics.

    Designers of anything, please note.

  5. S.G. VanBenschoten says:

    Someone donated a Kane Dead Reckoning Computer to our church thrift shop to sell. Could someone please tell me a fair price that we could ask for it.
    It is exactly like the one pictured above.
    Thank you.
    S.G. VanBenschoten

  6. Murray says:

    I can't help you on a price suggestion, S.G.

    To give you some sort of indication, the average number of hits to this page from people searching for "kane dead reckoning computer" (or similar) is less than 5 per day. There is not a huge amount of interest in this device.

    As I said in the article, it could be good for math teachers to use this device with their students. There are many possible learning outcomes, like units, vectors, angles, compass bearings, velocity, altitude and air pressure, etc. And this is all in a "real" context of flying.

  7. Oni says:


    I had the MK-6B handed down to me from my father.

    I still use it although there are now pocket version.

    Mine is also in magnificent condition

  8. Murray says:

    Oni, do you work for Air Gold Coast?

    I used to fly at the Gold Coast (using one of your competitors πŸ™‚ ) in the early 1990s.

    The cost of flying here in Singapore is prohibitive, so I have to be satisfied with PC-based simulators these days.

  9. Carolyn Usher says:

    I was wondering if anyone had the manual to the Kane Dead Reckoning Computer, Model MK-6B in .pdf or any other format. I received one of these computers after my ASA E6B got stolen and I am not sure of a couple of windows on the computation side of the slide ruler. Any help would be appreciated.

  10. Jerry Sunman says:


    The pdf. for the MK6 manual is on Greg's Slide Rules web site. The link is near the top of this page.

  11. Alan Bradshaw says:

    I am getting to use a Kane MK-6B in my effort to fulfill a life-time dream and obtain my pilot's license. Purchased in a second-hand book shop it is quite stiff and difficult to adjust without overshooting the targeted graduation. What would be a suitable lubricant for this aluminium rotating disks device?

  12. Murray says:

    Sorry, I'm not sure how to answer this one about lubricants.


  13. Reader says:

    What about a dry graphite spray? The reason I say dry is because there are several that are wet. If you have trouble finding one, look in an auto repair store. Let me know how it works out.

  14. Carolyn Usher says:

    Thank you all for your help. I was wondering if someone has used the Model MK-6B before. If so, could you answer a couple of questions for me. The Model MK-6B is different in a couple of ways from the MK-6 and I want to be clear on it. Also does anyone know if they made a pocket version of this slide rule. If so, do you know where I can buy one? I love this slide rule. It gives a lot more information than the ASA one. Thanks again.

  15. Maccc says:

    "Alan Bradshaw" Re the lubricant for the slide & rings: Any quality silicon spray will work well, and not impair the other functions.

  16. Christopher Mikesell says:

    When I was learning to fly a few years ago, I suggested to my instructor that I take my programmable graphing calculator on a flight instead of my dead reckoning computer. My instructor replied that the computer would be easier to use, but that I could try it. After trying the calculator a few times and getting nothing but frustrated, I switched to the computer and had no trouble. The main reasons for my problems were that the light turbulance, vibration, and the distraction of flying the airplane made it almost impossible to correctly enter the necessary values using the keypad. With the dead rekoning computer, all that was necessary was to turn the dial and match the right numbers around its edge. If given a choice, I think that I would always choose a dead rekoning computer over a digital calculator for in-flight calculations.

  17. Murray says:

    Yes, Christopher - sometimes the low-tech solution is the best.

  18. ken says:

    My neighbor has a model MK-6b computer and I have his manual scanned into my coumpter. If anyone needs a scanned copy just let me know.

  19. David Luna says:

    Hello Ken, I have gotten hold of an mk-6b computer without a manual and I would like to know if you could email me a scanned? Thanks David 210-865-7561

  20. scottie says:

    David Luna
    here is a link to a website that has the manual available for download. You need to have winrar, or some other unzipping program, to open the files though.
    The dead Reckoning file is about 20 manuals down from the top.

    Hope it helps.

  21. Ken says:

    I thank you again for this info. My friend has one of these devices and I told him that in we put out an enquire that some where someone would or might have a copy. I know he will be thrilled to get this.

    thanks again

  22. Allen Schwarz says:

    I have a Kane mk-6b that I was just looking at. I got it in an old garage i was cleaning out. It is still in the original box with the manual and carrying case. It is in mint condition and I was wondering what it might be worth.

  23. Murray says:

    Anyone like to make an offer for Allen's Kane mk-6b?

  24. Gerald says:

    I have a Jeppesen slide-Graphic Computer with leather case and a Kane Mark VI Dead Reckoning computer manual, would like to sell both,make offer.

  25. donna says:

    I also have a Kane MK-6B and would like to know what it is worth.

  26. Carolyn Usher says:

    I am looking to complete my Kane ruler collection by buying both the MK-7, SkyKing Computer, and the MK-8, Time-Turn computer, plus the manuals. I love these slide rulers. I am a student pilot and I find them priceless. Thanks

  27. Carolyn Usher says:

    OH! For those looking to research the value of their Kane please see this website:

  28. Ron says:

    The wind triangle side material does not accept most pencil leads that I've tried; I've tried many types but cannot get a good dark line.

    Is there any way to clean/treat it to solve this problem? and to erase?

  29. Murray says:

    @Ron: From memory, a 2B used to be just fine. As for cleaning, can anyone else help?

  30. Carolyn says:

    I have used fine tipped dry erase markers. Also, I used window cleaner on the wind side and it worked just fine. I hope that helps.

  31. Janice says:

    I have a Kane Dead Reckoning Computer MK-6B in great condition does any one want it? It is destined for the dump other wise.

  32. Carolyn Usher says:

    I would love to have it! Please don't throw it away. Contact me via this blog. I am certain I can put it to good use. I teach cadets and we can use it in the classroom for practice. If you have the manual and anything else that came with it please include it. I will wait to hear from you.


  33. John says:

    There's a reason it's not called the Kane E6B. It's actually an E6A drift computer that does not calculate wind correction angles. A normal E6B has correction angles and true course at the top of the wind triangle dial. The Kane has drift angles and true heading. It is designed to give you your drift angle based on a true heading which is useful only for things like fish spotting to find out where this heading will take you, handy if you don't want to fly into the sun but for little else. It can be used to solve for correction angle but you have to Kind of re-design it. Don't buy one if you want to fly a course.

  34. John says:

    I'd like to add to my previous comment that the drift computer is probably the MK6, not the MK 6B.

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