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Help with VFR Navigation


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I can take off, land and navigate with GPS but my understanding is that GPS is not allowed within VFR rules? I have been trying to navigate with a map on my lap and timings between Waypoints but I am finding it quite difficult which is odd because I'm a mountaineer with professional qualifications for navigation. What sort of things do good pilots use for waypoint markers especially inland over open countryside. Navigation South West England is proving very difficult once I leave the coastline behind me. I'm using Orbx EU England scenery and I sometimes find Waypoints that I've noted do not appear. I'm also using Plan G for planning flights.


I also have a query with the mixture settings in a Cesna 172 when cruising. No matter where I set it to FSX keeps telling me that the engine is losing power because it is not leaned correctly.



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The GPS can be used at anytime and that includes VFR or IFR.

I use it regularly in a freeware panel that I created for the F-111.


In the Right hand MFD I created and added a "Mission Adaptive Flight planner"

it has 2 pages that enable you to input Airport ICAOs or Lattitude/Longitude in 3 different text formats.

It is used in conjunction with a Radar that shows ICAOs ,Flight plan lines and waypoint

index numbers, the radar has as a page a scrollable constantly updated Flight plan text listing.


With it you can modify existing Flight plans or create flight plans from scratch with as many as 99 legs.


You do not have to use the created flight plan or the autopilot , but having it in the background provides you with data to a variety of reference points , and by viewing both the radar and text readouts you are always aware of your current position and where you are going .


If you do a search here at the Flightsim library for;


F-111 Pig HUD

Build Standard 8


in the preview you can see a large number of screen shots , many are of the instrument involved.


The aim is to give you close to total Situational Awareness.

Additionally you can virtually do away with maps.






If you scroll through the following link you will find several screenshots on the 2 pages that display it's use,



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Thanks guys. That link for basic navigation looks really interesting. What I was really looking for was advice on Waypoints. Like I said I plan a route on a map but when I come to fly it there are landmarks that I would have expected to see that just are not there. I know it's the short comings of the FSX and Orbx scenery as it is not "photo-real" but I wondered if there was some trick for picking Waypoints that would always be present and visible from the air. A well known hill, for example, may be obvious to a person on the ground and something that I might use as a waypoint when walking etc. but at 5000 feet that same hill can become very indistinct and it is this that is giving me the difficulty.


By the way I am aware that I can do whatever I want in FSX but I want to emulate as closely as possible what I am likely to encounter in the real world. I've only had a couple of lessons to date and I want to get as much under my belt as possible before booking another lesson. I've got my sim set up as near as I can get it to the real thing without breaking the bank.

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I've just referred to this in another post: You don't choose the waypoints, they choose you. Waypoints and Visual Reference Points can be two entirely different things. A waypoint can be a visual point on a map, with no corresponding visual reference - in fact it can even be noting more than a radio nav intersection.


What can be useful for your flightplanning is to pick VRP's that relate to the actual airfields and airports on your intended route. A surprising number of these will be found in FTX EU England - although there are gaps in coverage oop north, IIRC.

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In the USA the Visual Flight Rules are:


Visual Flight Rules

§91.151 Fuel requirements for flight in VFR conditions.

§91.153 VFR flight plan: Information required.

§91.155 Basic VFR weather minimums.

§91.157 Special VFR weather minimums.

§91.159 VFR cruising altitude or flight level.

§91.161 Special awareness training required for pilots flying under visual flight rules within a 60-nautical mile radius of the Washington, DC VOR/DME.

§§91.162-91.165 [Reserved]


Where's your link to page 22 of the PPL syllabus?

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I don't want to get into a debate about this and I see no reason why I should take the trouble to justify my statement. I readily acknowledge that I am a novice and that your experience is far superior to mine but if you are not able to contribute to my question in a positive way and in the context it was posted please just ignore the thread. If you want to be pedantic I'm sure there are others on here who can match your level of knowledge and experience and provide a lively debate, but it's not me.


Here is a link however:



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I have been trying to navigate with a map on my lap and timings between Waypoints but I am finding it quite difficult....I'm using Orbx EU England..


OrbX is very pretty but is only an approximation of real-world scenery, so using it for pinpoint navigation is not such a good idea.

For that you need VFR Photographic or 'Photoreal' scenery because it's basically a photo of the ground with everything in its proper place. There are several brands available and they cover many parts of the world.

There's a thread about the relative merits of Photoreal vs OrbX here-




Typical Photographic scenery on the market-


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Visual Flight Rules do not, repeat not, cover navigation. Visual Flight Rules cover the situation in which a pilot operates an aircraft by looking out of the cockpit. That means in weather conditions clear enough to allow the pilot to visually see where the aircraft is going and avoid collision. that's why they are called Visual.


Your own link makes the point:


...they are capable of safely operating an aeroplane whilst flying in weather conditions appropriate to the visual flight rules.
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Pick features likely to be the orbx package. I use road junctions, towns, train tracks and lakes. Granted its not 100% accurate but in conjunction with an old aviation chart I find it works enough. Coupled with triangulating off radio nav aids I csn pootle round virtually.


If youre serious about vfr nav ;-) then I recommend the trevor thom ppl book on navigation and learn it for real!


One other thing regarding dead reckoning. When planning a real flight in a real aircraft and you head off and set course the trick is not to lose sight of exactly where you are. Pick youre desd reckoning route so that say the a1 is on your port side (rules of the air) and you pick an intetsection with another feature such as another major road as a turning point.


Apologies if this is obvious.

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In the context of my post I think you are being a little pedantic and not at all helpfull. 'I'll repeat, I do not want to debate this, I was looking for specific advice. You may well be right but I'm not really interested at this time.
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To echo what others have said in a different way, navigation is a requirement of all flight and however you do it, knowing WHERE you are and how to get where you are going is one of the most important aspects of basic safety. If this means you use the GPS map until you learn your way around the sim and visual navigation more confidently then by all means.


No human ATC is going to fine you or force you to land or disconnect from a multiplayer flight because you are using GPS. These things are in common use by GA pilots all over the world


Like mentioned earlier, you do not choose the visual guides to follow, they choose you. That is, whatever the guides are along your route, learn HOW to use them even if they are not your mental image of ideal. A road, river, villages, forest edge and many other types are available to you.


Dead reckoning means that lacking dense visual references, you know if you leave a certain major town on a compass heading and compensating for wind and elevation obstacles, you will arrive at the next major visual clue. While you are learning to do this, have your flight plan with data waypoints loaded into your GPS so when you get lost or are not sure, you can glance at it to confirm your mental picture.


Plan-G is a great tool considering it's free because you can zoom in and get detailed maps. Even when minor references don't exist in FS, the major ones will and using dead reckoning between the major visual landmarks is the most valuable and useful navigation skill you can acquire in FS.


You don't have to fly from house to house. As you gain experience, you'll discover you can fly for great distances (10s or hundreds of miles) without seeing anything familiar and still arrive close enough that when you see the landmark you were aiming for, you'll be able to make the slight correction to get you onto the next leg.


Before you take off, use plan-g to make note of MAJOR landmarks, not the tiny stuff and use the MAP feature of FS zoomed in to find these same features regardless of what they are. A valley, cleft between two ridges, a coastline. Take advantage of what's there, not your mental ideal and massage your flight plan to follow these things. Save and export the plan-g flight plan into FSX version and load this plan into FSX which will then display in the GPS. When you are in doubt, a few second glance at the GPS map will get you sorted out. Plan-G is also able to connect to FSX and place your aircraft location on the map. Use this while you are learning to help you gain the mental image skills all pilots eventually rely on. Use the crutches until you can walk.



2 carrot salad, 10.41 liter bucket, electric doorbell, 17 inch fan, 12X14, 85 Dbm
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mgh is not trying to be pedantic. He's not saying he's smarter.

He's just trying to teach you something.


Vfr conditions means you have to stay clear of cloud. As soon as you dip into cloud you are flying in Ifr conditions. I often say to myself "we are ifr now" when I go into cloud, just to get my focus back to the instruments.

How you navigate is seperate from it.

You can navigate on instruments in vfr conditions.

You can end up in ifr conditions while you were navigating visually (not good). You can try to push through the cloud, hoping for the best. Or switch navigation methods as the conditions change.

Get the definitons right, it's usefull.

For example, some aircraft are not certified for ifr flights, as they lack the required instruments..


Recognising something by sight is a matter of having seen it before. I can fly around fine in area's I fly often using visual cues. Following coastlines rivers airports and roads. Because I know the area well in fsx. In country's I don't visit much I can't find the airports without gps. Coastlines still works, but lakes, roads, rivers are not clear enough to navigate by.

The more you fly in an area, the more small landmarks you recognise, so you won't need the gps much anymore.

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Hi Alan


Try something like a short trip/Flight from 2 very distinctive locations , for example,

From London to an Airport on the south coast of England and back.


From the air London is easy to to visually identify because of the river and sea coast .

the other location on the south coast should be chosen for a distinctive coastline that has a harbor that will make it easy to recognise at a distance from the air.


On any map plot/draw the line between the two locations , then carefully examine any features near to your drawn line , note - towns -airports - roads and railways.

Turn the map so that your direction of flight is at the top , now note the angles that roads and railways cut across your flight path , be especially aware of any significant junctions , mark or annotate those significant points and look out for them during your flight.

Using time and distance you should be able to calculate when you can expect them to appear.


Your flight planning is thoroughly done before each flight to prepare you for what to expect at various stages of the actual flight.


To further prepare yourself , go to Google Earth slowly and thoroughly move along your intended flightpath , here you are not enjoying the view , rather you are absorbing like a sponge any and all features that might be of value to you during the flight.

Don't rely on memory , write meaningful notes on paper that can be referred to during the flight.


Do that flight several times ensuring that on each successive flight you see more and more reference points that help you to fix your location at various stages.


I know it can be very frustrating initially , just persavere , eventually it will become second nature to you .


The Trevor Thom navigation text books are highly recommended , if you can get hld of one grab it , it really covers and gives an insight to navigation.




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I didn't read it like that. It was short, abrupt even, and did not address my question. Forums are not the best form of communication and I totally accept that offence may not have been intended. I thought I had made myself clear but I can see that perhaps I am conflating PPL, VFR and navigation.



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Il88p and COBS have both mentioned a good point.


If you were flying for real in an unfamiliar area you would use distinct features. Where dead reckoning is used you would choose you're end point to be something with a feature you couldn't mistake. Once y you become familiar with an area, even in a sim, your visual nav will get easier.


Iir you are uk based. Try and get hold of an old aviation chart. I use one and even mark my route in China graph as I would if conducting a real flight. The magnetic deviation vs fsx will probably be out but the detail on the charts is probably what is in fsx.


For example I flew from leeds Bradford towards keighley. I could roughly identify y he valley from the charts and I knew roughly what time and heading to fly to intercept the Valley I wanted (dead reckoning). I used vor/dme to confirm position.


Then I flew up the aire valley to Skipton tracking the road in the valley. At skipton I turned east and flew dead reckoning and used a windfarm whicj was both in fsx and on the chart to confirm my approx position relative to desired track.


Study the charts, read the books and practice :-D at least you can't get into trouble of you busy airspace.

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Visual Flight Rules don't cover navigation.


The rules regulating flight in VFR conditions may not cover navigation per se, but the practical test standards used by FAA examiners testing candidates for a PPL license most certainly do - at least here in the US. During the practical test, the student must demonstrate his or her ability to layout a cross country flight on a VFR sectional chart, to use a plotter to determine compass headings and distances between waypoints, to use aircraft performance charts to determine airspeed and fuel consumption, to use weather forecasts of winds and temperatures aloft to calculate ground speeds and wind correction angles in flight over the plotted course, using either an E6B mechanical computer, or its electronic equivalent, and thereby derive the compass headings which will be used between waypoints, and the expected time enroute, as well as expected fuel consumption.


When I took my PPL practical exam in 1988, the very FIRST thing the examiner had me do was to demonstrate my understanding of VFR navigation, by plotting a sample cross country flight on a chart, and to use the winds aloft data he provided to calculate all the other things (headings, speeds, time enroute etc.) Had I not been able to do that, there would have been no point in continuing on to the rest of the oral examination, much less the actual flight test in the aircraft.


To say that navigation has nothing to do with VFR flying is absurd. Fully half of my PPL ground school, and subsequent practical exam for the actual license, concerned nothing BUT navigation!


To the OP, since you have orienteering experience, you are well ahead of the game. Since scenery in the flight sim world can be somewhat limited, my suggestion for picking waypoints from a plotted course on a chart is to focus on things that are reasonably prominent. Rather than things like individual

buildings, or hills, try to pick waypoints that are likely to be found even in the default FSX scenery. Things like major highway intersections, rivers, (especially where a river makes a prominent turn in its course), isolated towns or villages, lakes or large ponds, and especially any airports that may lie close to your plotted course, and which you may fly over or near - as these are likely to be found even in the default scenery.


It is certainly permissable to use a GPS as your primary navigation aid in real-world VFR flying, and modern units, with built-in moving map functions make the process very easy - but if you do pursue a PPL license, do focus on learning the old-fashioned techniques of pilotage and dead reckoning, use of charts and plotter, and mechanical or electronic calculations of speeds and headings with an E6B-style computer. One never knows when the modern "magic box" might decide to pack it in halfway through a trip!

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I am not a best speaker, but you can check out my 5 part tutorial on VFR navigation (~31 minutes).

It is based on my experience from PPL course:



I have made a lightweight flight planner, which is focused on VFR. It generates the same PDF that I am taking into plane, when flying in real.


There are some innovative features, like easy 3d flight planning (first video on this page: http://vfrflight.org/en/tutorials.html).



It's free, maybe it will help you.



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Thank you very much. You read my thread, understood what I wanted and provided not only an answer but a means to help me achieve it. And your English in the tutorial, which is excellent by the way,is not even you first language! I will download your application at the earliest opportunity. Your tutorial was excellent and exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.


Once again thank you.


By the way in mountaineering when you allocate a landmark as something to navigate via it is generally known as a "Waypoint" I assume the same applies to flight.



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