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3 Answers

Teaching the nav log / computing courses and headings

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Flight Instructor

Over the years, I've tried various nav log products to use for flight planning cross country legs. Most seemed overly complicated and rather busy to use in flight.

I've simplified my process of planning as follows. Perhaps days (or even a week or two) before the flight, I measure my True Course (say 353 degrees) with a plotter, then add the westerly deviation of 15 degrees (I'm in Connecticut) to get my Magnetic Course (008 degrees). I'll use this mag course to chose an odd thousand altitude to file and fly; because of FAR 91.15.

It appears that the common nav logs have you take the true course and adjust for winds first, then add in the variation, etc, etc. It seems like this would mess up figuring out the correct magnetic course figure needed for VFR altitude selection would it not?

Weather forecast may decide if I go 3500 or 5500 etc.... Perhaps the day before or the day off, I then get my winds aloft info to figure out my wind correction angle which will determine my ultimate Magnetic Heading to fly using my directional gyro, to achive the mag course I planned.


I'm pretty sure I'm doing this right but it deosn't make the nav log very user friendly to me. Am I missing something?


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3 Answers

  1. Ron Klutts on Mar 27, 2013

    You correct for winds first since the winds are given off of True North, not magnetic. Many other groups use those wind forecasts and aren’t aviation related.

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  2. Wes Beard on Mar 27, 2013

    Referencing the FARs the wording magnetic course is used. By definition it is without wind correction.
    You take the true course and the wind correction and a true heading. True heading plus variation and get magnetic heading. The mag heading plus deviation and get a compass heading.

    No where in that formula does it calculate magnetic course. It is a separate calculation just to find your hemispherical altitude.

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  3. David Eberhardt on Mar 29, 2013

    WES – thanks …. had to review your answer for a few days to see where I introduced an error into my process. In looking at available nav logs again I see that there is no place for magnetic course, which is what the VFR hemispheric altitude to fly is based upon. As you wrote, separate calculation and that calculation does not appear on the log, just the result in the altitude block.

    Nav log is for figuring out the correct headings after correcting for winds first, then variation, then deviation.

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