View Full Version : Philosophy of Navigation

03-25-2008, 09:21 AM
We have many navigation tools available to us, which ones do you use?

Webmaster Nels Anderson got at this indirectly in a recent thread when he asked what real world aviation products are people using with FS. But I'd like to get at it directly.


For example, do you believe that IFR stands for I Follow Railroads? That is, are you a VFR flyer who navigates visually using (sectional) maps for reference?

Or do you go to the other extreme, use an FMC, enter the destination into the LEGS page and let Otto Mattic take it from there?

Or do you do something in between?


For the most part I fly VOR-to-VOR. Of late I've been supplementing this with FlightSim Commander 7 so I don't have to mess with paper enroute charts all the time. Sometimes I let FSC7 plan a route for me, but I never let it drive the aircraft.

Captain Smithy
03-25-2008, 09:37 AM
It depends on the route. If I'm just doing a local flight, or a short cross-country (e.g. 20-30nm) then I just do it visually (weather permitting or course).

Longer flights, and especially IFR, I use either VOR or ADF when available. When neither is available, e.g. out in the middle of say Russia or over the oceans, the GPS comes into play.

I tend to hand-fly all smaller aircraft, unless I'm cruising over a long leg, which is when I put in Otto. Big jets I hand fly whenever possible (Takeoff to Top Of Climb, Top Of Descent to Landing) but I rely on Otto for cruise... and I'm always prepared to hand it over to the computer if things get a little uncomfortable during the approach.

I must be among a tiny minority who still uses the default FS flight planner! It's not perfect but it's good enough for me. Some of the fuel calculations and speeds for the jets are suspect but I just do them myself.

Of course, with addon aircraft e.g. PSS, Level D etc. I just use the FMC...

03-25-2008, 09:55 AM
I'm trying to be a combination navigator, if that makes any sense.

I usually level off @/- 2500 so I can fly VFR, but I also watch my instruments so I can learn to read them. Sooner or later, I'm going to want out of that Cessna and into something that goes a little higher. (and faster :D)

03-25-2008, 10:02 AM
I should have mentioned that I'm particularly curious about what people who are real world pilots, like the first three of us who have posted, do when they are flying in FS.

I'll clarify my own post. Most of the time I hand fly gate to gate, VOR to VOR, using a route prepared in advance by any of several means. (Except that if not flying online I usually skip parking at the destination gate.)

03-25-2008, 10:20 AM
Dead reckoning or GPS Direct, then ILS or Visual.

Had enough of the "other stuff" through the years!

But.....all you "young guns" better not do as I do, but do as I say, and follow the Airways or get proper clearance to do otherwise. Talk to your passengers and let them know what's going on. Above all.....be smooth; carry lots of fuel; and carry an extra ten knots during take-off and landing. Oh.....and have fun!

03-25-2008, 03:03 PM
Dead Reckoning and pilotage. I will sometimes use VOR, ADF, and GPS as backups, but that is it. I don't do IFR anymore, but that is because I don't do long X-countries anymore. My typical flights today are jaunts for some aerobatic fun, or just a short 60nm flight up to visit friends, thus no need for IFR. Besides that, I'm LONG from being current on instruments.

03-25-2008, 03:07 PM
Besides that, I'm LONG from being current on instruments.

I'm long from being "current" on anything, but hey.....this is just a sim; no need to be current. :-)

03-25-2008, 03:12 PM
I'm long from being "current" on anything, but hey.....this is just a sim; no need to be current. :-)

I thought he meant in real life LOL! If we are talking in FS, then GPS direct.

03-25-2008, 03:52 PM
I like to to use the Chevy Chase method (the movie "Caddy Shack"): "Nanananana! ....Nanananana!"

When I did "real world" flying from 8 to 10 years old, which was much more rudimentary than sim flying, where I would simply hold the plane on course and altitude during the cruise phase of our 500 NM hops. Back then my co-pilot (my Dad) would chart the course by VFR plus compass headings, and I'd fly the compass headings he gave me.

When I first started flying my sims, I picked up a skill that I think is valuable, learned to fly by NUMERICAL gps! Just like in the commercial where someone has a numerical gps instrument of some kind, like on their cell phone, and they were able to navigate the plane to their destination (in the commercial). I started out doing that, it appealed to my mathematical approach to life, "seemed logical at the time"--Spock "Star Trek" OS.

Then I started doing massive numbers of Great Circle GPS course flight plans, allowing the computer/sim to calculate the Great Circle round/straight (depending on how you look at it) course directly to the destination.

My second longest Great Circle leg which I had to fly without computer assistance was the Hong Kong to Heathrow LONG ROUTE flight that the RW Boeing team flew the 777-200LR for a world record. When they lifted off, about six hours later I realized they were flying, and fired up my FS9 and Meljet 777-200LR and got into the air asap to follow along, six hours behind. I landed I think an hour after they did (total time that is, in other words about 7 hours after they landed), I think they were cruising at a faster speed than I was. I had to navigate to a couple of way points using my numerical gps naviation method as the sim would not calculate the route going the long route only the short route. I was only about 120 NM's too high of latitude over the Atlantic, when I corrected my course.

My number one longest leg was the Virgin Atlantic Global Flier first flght, that was another one in which I used the Heading Hold and flew the course using numerical gps. If I recall that flight took me 68 hours straight non-stop.

All other Great Circle flight plans calculated by the computer/sim I flew to gain a greater understanding of Great Circle navigation, and it was especially helpful to watch my track on FSNavigator, because you could switch from the flat world to the round spherical world view during the flight and see the flight plan from both perspectives. Now I have a better intuitive understanding of Great Circle routes.

I have also flown special flight plans in which I try to fly to every major airport in the world, my flight plan was about 7 or 8 pages long, and took me a long time to fly. On that flight plan I would practice VOR to VOR flight, which I don't like to do that much. I also have to practice other methods of radio navigation. I have practiced quite a bit of 5 foot visibility and rain hand flown and also coupled ILS landings.

My sim preference is to fly IFR direct gps, then hand fly the landing, mostly in 747's.

03-25-2008, 03:52 PM
I thought he meant in real life LOL! If we are talking in FS, then GPS direct.

xxmikexx said....."he asked what real world aviation products are people using with FS."

03-25-2008, 04:05 PM
I use all of the above in MSFS, with the exception of dead reckoning. You can be darn sure that I'm not going to sit at my copmuter and go through the hassle of calculating legs, spinning winds, and then re-doing it all when I'm in the air.

I use all of them in real life, although when within 100nm of Abilene AND it's severe clear outside, I just hop in and go with full tanks.