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Thread: VOR navigation question

  1. #1

    Default VOR navigation question

    This may be a stupid question but I need some guidance on it. When I plan a flight and use vor to vor, I always use the gps to fly the route. How do I use the navigation radios to navigate from vor to vor? I would like to learn this method rather then using the gps all the time. If anyone could help me I would appreciate it. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Roch-Vegas, NH, USA.
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    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    http://www.simviation.com/rinfoaltitude.htm

    read this tutorial, pics and everything will explain how to set your NAV1 to pick up the VOR beacon


    Dave O'Brien
    AFCAD military base producer
    I3D Beta tester
    http://www.i3dteam.com/archive/banners/dave.jpg

  3. #3

    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    Hey bradb...

    Give these websites some attention... they have excellent tutorials, good explanations of air navigation principles, and includes more info, like instrument approaches, etc.:

    http://www.navfltsm.addr.com/ (great site! well-written and illustrated.)

    http://member.newsguy.com/~flight/xp...l/lessons.html (written for X-Plane, but principles still apply... check the "Series: How to Fly X-Plane" section tutorials first.)

    You can also find many sites available that have free downloads of current IAPs (Instrument Approach Procedures) as well as Departure and Arrival Procedures too!

    Hope this helps!

    John.

    [font color=red]Edit: Oh yeah, forgot to ask, did you go through the FS2004 turorials and lessons? As a real world pilot, I've never taken them, but I've heard that the online tutorials and interactive lessons are really pretty good! John.[/font]
    lplus11
    "I'd rather be flying!"

  4. #4

    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    From within FS, click on the learning center and read the tutoral on VOR navigation.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Leesburg, Florida, USA.
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    383

    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    The tutorials referenced in the responses are good ideas. The Learning Center is also a good place to snoop around to learn things if you're a newbie.

    Here's enough to get your feet wet and make you really dangerous!

    Get aloft, look on your map (I never leave home without FSNavigator - it's a payware package no one should be without), and pick out a nearby VOR, preferably one that will also provide DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) - not all VORs will have this, but it seems the great majority of them do. Tune the NAV1 radio to the VOR frequency. Now, tune the OBS1 (or the COURSE if you're using an HSI) until the needle starts to center, then tune more slowly until the needle centers. If you're using the OBS (it's easier to start learning this kind of thing in the Cessna - if you practice in the LearJet things happen a little too quickly!), when the needle centers, look at the funny little blob near the bottom center of the OBS (that's the Omni Bearing Selector and it "tunes" the radials of the VOR). If you look carefully, that little "blob" is actually a direction indicator. When the VOR/OBS is "active" (i.e., it's picking up a signal), that little blob (technically speaking, it's called a "flag") will either point "TO" or "FROM" the VOR you're tuning. If you're close to the VOR (let's say 20 miles or so), and the needle is centered, but the flag is pointing away "FROM" where you're going, turn the OBS 180 in the other direction, until the needle is centered and the flag is pointing "TO" the VOR. The number now indicated on your OBS (obviously varies from 0 to 360) is the course you need to steer to go directly to that VOR. That assumes there's no wind! The FAA takes a dim view on "homing" to VORs and NDBs. You're supposed to "steer a course" to get from one navaid to the other. If there's a crosswind component of any kind, you'll have to learn how to compensate for it and "crab" along to maintain the proper course. As you study navigation more and more, you'll learn about the proper techniques (if you're really that interested).

    I personally find flying IFR a lot more fun. It's a bit more challenging than just getting in the plane and letting the AP and GPS do everything for you. I guess I like it because I'm constantly learning more about it and I enjoy learning experiences.

    If you want to discuss items you learn along the way, I would be happy to exchange dialog with you at your convienence. If you prefer the dialog here, that's fine too. Others can share in your learning experience. If you want little snippets and ask questions you don't want to pose to everybody and his brother, you can contact me at aburkefl at comcast dot net and I'll be happy to field your questions.

    Enjoy.
    Art


  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Ottawa, Canada.
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    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    There is a VOR flying lesson in FS9 that covers the topic well if you want some practice to go with the tutorials.
    VOR flying is a lot more fun than plugging numbers into the GPS and following the line, imho.
    Blair
    CYOW

  7. #7

    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    When actually navigating to a VOR or an NDB for that matter is to not chase the needle when close to the station. If your heading has kept the needle centered for the past 15 minutes and it suddenly starts to deviate, don't change your heading. Short of flying into a tornado or thunderstorm the winds are not going to change that radically all of a sudden. What you are really seeing is station passage. There is an inverted cone where the receiver on the aircraft gets confused and depending on how close you pass directly over the top of the station the needle will jump around or pin directly on the side of the station. Before that, unless you are dead on the needle will seem to become more sensitive and require more and more wind correction.

    How do you know if you are close to a VOR? If you have DME it's easy look at the readout. If you want to do it like a lot of instrument pilots who train do it, then it takes a bit of just staying on a radial and learning how the needle moves as you get close to station passage.

    A real VOR is nothing like the ones depicted in the game. You get bent radials, interference from mountains etc. I flew with my friend last night to Columbia County Airport with me as the student and him using the instructor station. I was able to tune the Chester VOR in at 3000ft. In real life, you have the Berkshire Mts. that hamper you from getting a decent signal. The ILS signal can also get distorted by snow or ice on the ground.

    Wind correction is easy. Always remember to turn to the needle. With a VOR, when the needle gets more than one dot from center turn around 20 degrees in the direction of the needle. If the needle then stops moving and stays still, turn another 20 degrees til it centers, then take out half your correction angle, and thats your new heading. In this example if your orignal heading was 360 and you turned 340 and the needle stopped, you would then turn to 320 untill it centers. You would then steer 340 and see how the needle reacts. Turning back to 360 after it centers will only have you flying a big s shaped course in the sky. The localizer is flown in a similar manner except you only turn around 5 degrees max.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Leesburg, Florida, USA.
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    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    I intentionally didn't go into any more detail than I did. Your last paragraph is what I consider a classical description/technique for "steering a course to the VOR." Took me a while to understand that, but I guess after reading about eight different dialogs on how to do it, it all finally made sense!

    On the really technical side, the "how" of the VOR producing the radials I found fascinating (i.e., the out-of-phase signals to produce the radial effect). I was very active in amateur radio (I'm NE4F) for a while and the electronics I had to study in those days has helped me now and then over the years.

    The fun (and sometimes challenge!) of IFR, tracking VORs, NDBs and the like, is mostly what's kept me in flightsim for the last ten years or so. Eventually, we'll have computers running fast enough to have a good display of truly VFR scenery. For the most part, in today's environment, you can either fly around a really big city, or specialized scenery for your favorite corner of the world, or fly with a big blob of scenery and have fun with IFR. I know I certainly enjoyed flying a night a lot more when I started getting better at IFR.

    Oh yeah, you're also right about the real-life VOR/NDB - they can be really strange and sometimes undependable. I suspect GPS will eventually phase them out - look how little LORAN gets used these days. Tests have been done in the last couple of years with differential GPS in lieu of ILS. The FAA has apparently been more and more convinced.
    Art


  9. #9

    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    Using a VOR is not anywhere as difficult to do as people think. Even accounting for wind is in reality the same as trying to fly down a straight road.

    I found the same to be true of flying real life NDB approaches. I was lucky to have an instructor who cut to the basics of what you are trying to do, which is get rid of the math in your head and just fly an airplane. Take for example a procedure turn done accoding to the charts. Forget adding and subtracting. So long as your flying the return leg of the turnaround you will interecept the final approach course at a 45 degree angle. When your done with your 180 you turn as soon as the needle is 45 degrees to the left or right of the 360 mark on the movable compass card. Easy. Navigation outbound and inbound is a bit more tricky but not much.

    I never understood the technial aspects of the way the signal was created. Myself, I am more at home at tearing into the guts of a plane and repairing something mechanical than electronic. What I did discover trying to fly one particular VOR approach is how much you can be off and still have the needles saying your all safe and secure. My wife had a GPS with us one day that marked the intersection we were holding on. It was a very fine day for me to practice because I hit that intersection four or five straight times dead on in timing and needles locked in the center. The GPS showed me on four different points. Not enough to kill me in the mountains, but enough to convince me why this approach required DME.

    Our flying club is changing over to GPS from Loran soon and it can't be soon enough. Albany NY has a ton of wacky radials which make navigating the victor airway south to Kingston an exercise in averaging out the swings of the needle.

    You don't need to fly an IFR plan to do the airways and procedures. In real life, I fly and file IFR almost all the time cross country. It saves hassle when getting flight following. The downside is that if the air gets bumpy you may not be able to get higher or lower and just have to gut it out. Something you don't deal with in a sim.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Leesburg, Florida, USA.
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    Default RE: VOR navigation question

    Good comments Bob. I guess the understanding of how the VOR works appealed to the nerd in me! <g>

    Amen about the needle pointing on the VOR. Where you actually are and how far you are from the VOR can heavily influence (accidentally sometimes!) your interpretation of where you are - where the VOR actually is!

    I guess here in Florida we're pretty lucky. Although we're now the 4th most populous state in the country, we still don't have anywhere near the size communities or overall population of the really big places. Consequently, we don't have nearly the aircraft traffic of places like New York - particularly places like Albany. Orlando essentially doesn't even operate 24 hours a day, although it just keeps getting busier and busier - the fourth set of runways I think is about complete.

    Several years ago I accidentally discovered a book entitled "Instrument Flight Techniques for Flight Simulator 98." Although FS98 is long gone, the techniques taught very nicely mirror the real life. The author just took nice "pains" to point out how it would work in the sim.

    I suspect, with so much ease of other techniques, that not too many simmers are practicing holding on an intersection, procedure turns and partial panels!

    In fairness, however, when I finally went flying for real, it was incredible how much the sim aided me in terms of knowing procedures. If we could just get a sim with that "seat of the pants" feeling, including vertigo!! LOL
    Art


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