Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 1 decade ago

How does a private pilot navigate when flying VFR?

Can he still use a GPS, while plotting waypoints to his destination?

Also, one more question if you have the answer: on a G1000, how do you enter route information? Is there a panel? Do you only use VORs, or are there other waypoints you can use? Do you use waypoints, or will it draw a straight line to your destination airport?

13 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Assuming the private pilot you are considering does not have an instrument rating there are two main ways to navigate when flying VFR.

    1) Pull out a good old fashion sectional chart, plot your course and note significant landmarks you will pass (power lines, highways, cities, bodies of water, etc...), call for your weather, adjust your planned heading due to wind conditions, take off and follow the course by referencing your map to what you see outside. This is called pilotage and it is the most basic way to navigate while flying.

    2) In your planning you see that you will fly directly towards a NDB (non-direction beacon) or VOR (VHF Omni-directional Radio Range). You decide that in order to lessen your workload in the plane you will use your aircraft's instruments (Navigation radios) to fly directly to/from these sites. This type of navigation is called dead reckoning and yes a GPS can be used to navigate as a form of dead reckoning.

    As a private pilot, I recommend using a mixture of both dead reckoning and pilotage. Moreover, receive training in all aspects of navigation and practice all as often as possible. Murphy’s law does apply to piloting and information/experience is the trump card.

    In terms of the G1000 question, I am not too familiar with how to operate a G1000 however, I have flown it on Microsoft Flight Simulator X. just as any GPS you can plot a course using any waypoints you want, whether a VOR, NDB, intersection or airport. Furthermore, a "Direct To" button will give you a straight line from your present position to the point where you want to go. So to answer your question, you can navigate either way.

    Source(s): -Private Pilot
  • 4 years ago

    Vfr Navigation

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    How does a private pilot navigate when flying VFR?

    Can he still use a GPS, while plotting waypoints to his destination?

    Also, one more question if you have the answer: on a G1000, how do you enter route information? Is there a panel? Do you only use VORs, or are there other waypoints you can use? Do you use waypoints, or will it draw a straight...

    Source(s): private pilot navigate flying vfr:
  • 1 decade ago

    Pilots are supposed to know how to navigate in a number of different ways. For VFR flight, they may use any means available, and by definition, they tend to navigate primarily by looking out the window. Charts also help, and radio navigation aids such as VORs are useful.

    A pilot can use a GPS, but should be prepared to navigate by other means should the GPS fail. Unfortunately, an increasing number of pilots are becoming highly dependent on GPS units, and are forgetting how to find their way should the GPS not work. Additionally, they trust the GPS units too much, and occasionally crash or get into trouble in the air as a result.

    I stay away from integrated glass cockpits such as the G1000, so I can't answer that question. These types of devices are extremely vulnerable to software bugs, and given the state of software engineering these days, I'm not ready to trust my life to careless programmers.

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  • 1 decade ago

    When learning to fly, you will initially be taught to use the good old fashioned chart/map! If the plane has a GPS in it, you will also be taught how to use that. However, many private pilots do use a GPS for VFR flights. It is a very valuable and useful tool - however, it is a legal requirement to still carry the relevant maps/charts whenever you're flying VFR and the GPS should never be relied on 100% for navigation. If it goes belly-up, you need to know how to use a chart for navigation, 'cause that's all you have left!

    Check out this site for Garmin manuals.

    Oh - and us chicks fly too. Happy flying!

  • 5 years ago

    Answers to your Questions: -My first question is, when it comes to cross-country navigation , will I use the VOR to navigate just like I would in VFR flight? (not necessarily in the approach or landing phase, just the 'en route' phase of the flight) YES NAVIGATING OFF THE VOR IS ONLY EVER USED IN ONE WAY... THE VOR MAY ALSO BE USED AS A BEARING/DISTANCE FIX.. -Are there any other instruments that I would use that I did not use while VFR flying? (I've noticed a horizontal bar on the VOR needle that I've never used before; perhaps I'll be using this when I start instrument training). NOTE: The aircraft I fly does not have a GPS. IM ASSUMING YOUR FROM THE UNITED STATES WHERE NDBS ARE NO LONGER IN USE... IF YOUR TALKING RADIO NAVIGATION VOR AND LOCALIZER/ ILS YES.. THE HORIZONTAL BAR IS FOR THE ILS.. THE ILS IS AN INSTRUMENT LET DOWN WHERE VERTICAL GUIDANCE IS GIVEN (THE ONLY ONE AVAILABLE TO DATE THAT I KNOW KNOW, HOWEVER IVE HEARD STORIES WHERE A GPS WILL SOON BE ABLE TO GIVE VERTICAL GUIDANCE FOR AN INSTRUMENT LET DOWN) -Do I stay in communication with ATC the entire time of the flight? If so, is it very similiar to flight-following (the difference being they can't terminate me if things get too busy)? YES, DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU FLYING, GENERALLY YOUR ALWAYS IN CONTACT WITH ATC.. The world of IFR flying is completely different to VFR flying... I personally find it eaiser to fly and navigate IFR...

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The first thing to do is undertake PPL Training. That will answer ALL your questions.

    Otherwise, here's what happens:

    Quite often pilots will use navigational radios. These are just towers with a frequency designated (different from the local traffic) that you can tune the appropriate instruments in to. For example an NDB (Non-Directional Beacon) will transmit a signal which the instrument will use by detecting the strength of the signal and hence determine the distance from the NDB. A similar system exists (however much more useful for long, straight-in approaches) with a VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Radio). (As you know)These transmit through each of 360 degrees through the appropriate frequency, and in the cockpit the heading desired is entered into the instrument. The instrument will then display the aircraft as being either to the left, or right, of these radio 'pathways'. Quite akin to this, an ILS (Instrument Landing System) will have the one pathway which is an extension of the runway centreline (it exists for each ILS-equipped runway at the aerodrome) however will have a 3-degree (or otherwise, if appropriate) approach slope from the touchdown zone that a pilot in bad weather can use for straight-in approaches.

    I know that's not VFR, but it's just interesting to know.

    I believe that GPSs can be used however I (personally) would discourage it as batteries can become an issue (if your batteries died you wouldn't know what to do). For VFR i think landmarks may be used in combination with a WAC.

    Sorry but i don't have the slightest clue how to operate a G1000. I'm learning to fly but only i use the traditional gyroscopic instruments still.

    About your question with waypoints, however, they should be used in General Aviation. Many experienced RA (Recreational Aviation) pilots have developed the habit of flying from paddock to paddock so that there is always somewhere to land in case of an emergency. These are their waypoints. By flying from A to B to C to D etc small errors will be quickly fixed. If you just try and head straight for an airfield by following a heading, an error as small as 1 degree can leave you out of sight of your destination at the calculated ETA and can it be quite daunting when stuck in one of these situations. (I hope you understand what i'm getting at there.)

    Hope it helps (a bit),


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    A private pilot may use any means available. The prudent pilot flies with a combination of electronic and visual methods. The pilot who flies only by GPS or VORs and doesn't back it up with pilotage or dead-reckoning checkpoints is asking for a bad day if there are electrical problems with the aircraft, or abnormalities with the signal sources. To be most efficient (time = money), a straight line is preferred, but terrain, restricted or military airspace, weather, and high density traffic areas often make an indirect path necessary or more desirable.

    Most GPS units, whether a G1000 or something else like the Garmin 500 I use, can do it any way you like. You can enter pre-programmed charted waypoints, you can make your own waypoints entered by lat/long, or you can simply go direct.

    Personally, I'm a bit old fashioned and pride myself on my pilotage and dead reckoning skills. I've actually ferried aircraft several thousand miles without so much as a radio or working compass, much less any navigation equipment. In fact, I ferried such an aircraft about 800 miles for an owner back in January. In Alaska I spent 6 years as a commercial pilot doing VFR "bush" flying in areas where a magnetic compass is useless and where visibility was often down to a mile or two . The Beavers, Otters and other aircraft I flew were only equipped with a single Comm radio. No nav equipment whatsoever. Good charts (not just aeronautical), a good watch and panel clock (redundancy) , good sense of the area, and a few tricks can get you by, even on trips of a few hundred miles in low visibility. Yes it's work, and yes it's stressful, but that's what separates real pilots from "cripples of the magenta line" who rely on the GPS and other navaids.

    Consider this: I spent two years flying right seat with a retired military pilot who had about 15,000 hours and several combat tours in 'Nam. He was absolutely the worst VFR pilot I've ever encountered. He literally couldn't find his way from one airport in the LA basin to another without a GPS and couldn't spot an airport unless he was barreling down a localizer to the runway. He wasn't totally helpless, and he had some other excellent skills, but he was dangerous unless he was on an instrument flight plan being guided by the instruments. He had spent his entire military and corporate flying career following electronic signals, mostly on autopilot. This operational handicap and lack of flexibility made him unsuited to the job we were doing which involved a fair amount of short-distance hops where IFR made little sense and was expensive in terms of time and aircraft costs.

    Do yourself a favor and be a well-rounded pilot. While its nice to be up on the latest technology and use it to advantage, learn to do it the old fashioned way first, learn it well, and never allow that skill lapse. It may save your bacon some day. Ever experienced a total electrical failure at dusk in the wilderness in a snow storm? I have. Without good visual and chart skills you can easily find yourself up a creek without the proverbial paddle.

    P.S. Glad to see most people have agreed with me.

    Source(s): Professional pilot for 23 years.
  • 1 decade ago

    The pilot uses navigational charts to fly headings ,but the aviation acronym VFR stands for visual flight rules only,you as the pilot must always fly by your visuals even with the aviation maps, you must always fly by being able to see the horizon and anything in between,to fly by instruments is a seperate rating and it is usually a lot further down the flying track.

    Source(s): knowledge gained from taking flying lessons a long time ago.
  • 1 decade ago

    VFR navigation means using a map, compass and watch. Simple and not subject to loss of RAIM.

    Source(s): 45 years
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