15 JUNE 2002, Page 32

Smoke signal

From Mr Neville Beale Sir: Admiral Beaufort's wind scale ('An admirable admiral', Books, 8 June) was still of real use to Royal Air Force navigators on long-range meteorological reconnaissance over the North Atlantic in the 1940s.

My own estimate of the surface wind speed, judging from the state of the sea, was always close to the speed calculated by our navigator using a drift sight to follow a smoke float that we had dropped.

Neville Beale

London SW3