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VFR Flight Plan Other Than Direct

Asked by: 2932 views FAA Regulations, General Aviation, Student Pilot

When filing a VFR flight plan, "direct" is usually the easiest and default routing that people use.

When traversing a body of water, mountaineous regions, or just want to go out of the way, how do you write that in the routing of the flight plan (assuming that there are no nearby airports, navaids, fixes, etc)?

I believe I read that you can use a VOR DME point, latitude and longitude, but what is the shorthand for writing that on a flight plan form? Can you use visual checkpoints such as a power plant, lake, stadium?


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2 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Jun 06, 2013

    If you are filing on line using DUAT/DUATS, the formats for a VOR radial and distance are the same, but the formats for latitude/longitude varies by supplier. You can download the manual for each service DTC and CSC from their websites to get the correct format. In genral, the VOR/radial/distance is in the following format VVVRRRDDD, for example the ACY VOR 278 degree radial, 32 NM fix is: ACY278032. The lattitude longitude formats hve several possibilities, ddmmN/ddmmW, so a position 39 degrees and 27 minutes north, 74 degrees and 35 minutes West would be coded as: 3927N/7435W by one of the Duat services and 3927/7435 by the other. If you are just writing it on a paper plan and talking to a briefer, I would just use something like: CTF000010 FLO000007 or 3927N/7435W 4025N/7518W …

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  2. Mark Kolber on Jun 09, 2013

    This may not apply to the water portion of your question but flying in the Colorado mountains, I didn’t use the radial/distance or lat/lon methods.

    A goal of flight planning in remote areas like this is to be near help in the case of a mishap. That means adjusting your route so that you do pass near populated areas. At the same time, if you look at a sectional of the mountains west, you’ll see that airways are generally over better terrain. So, in planning a mountain flight, I would usually pass near enough to some airport, navaid or named intersection; entering radial/distance or lat/lon seems to be a lot of extra work without a lot of extra benefit. For those times where it was truly remote, I would enter named passes I expected to cross in the remarks. That may or may not mean anything to ATC but the purpose of a VFR flight plan is search and rescue, and those named passed will mean something to them.

    One other piece I’ll mention: since the whole idea here is to be found, when flying on a VFR flight plan without Flight Following, always make position reports periodically. By knowing where you have already been, search and rescue can limit the search area quite a bit.

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