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4 Answers

Magnetic vs True Course

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Student Pilot

I've had a little confusion with cross-country planning. It is with the magnetic and true courses. Can you tell me if this is right. When I plot the route and use my plotter, the course I get is a TRUE heading. I then add or subract the variation degree which converts it to MAGNETIC. Now, I need to put in the wind correction. The problem here is I do not know whether the wind i get from Flight Service is in magnetic or true. Could you please possibly explain this to me, sorry if my question sounds a little confusing.

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4 Answers

  1. Vance Cochrane on Aug 06, 2010

    Winds aloft are given in true heading.

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  2. Paul on Aug 06, 2010

    For METARs and TAFs, Winds and Temperatures aloft (FD) winds are reported or forecasted in reference to true north.

    A helpful way to remember this is “if it is written it is true, if it is spoken (ATIS, ASOS, tower, etc) it is magnetic.”

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  3. Richard Hages on Aug 12, 2010

    Also make sure you have the difference between HEADING and COURSE down. When you plot the line on your sectional and use your plotter to get a direction for your flight that is your TRUE COURSE, not true heading. After you apply wind correction this COURSE becomes a HEADING. Just try to remember the COURSE as being the actual course that you will travel over the ground and the HEADING as the actual direction the the aircraft will be facing due to wind correction.

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  4. Patrick Mudge on Dec 21, 2010

    I have been flying as a Navigator in the Coast Guard for many years, and I have always used the rule that if the Tower or ASOS/AWOS/ATIS is reporting winds; they were always given in Magnetic Direction. Forecast winds for flight planning were given in True Direction. The other day I had a discussion with the Pilot and he informed me that the Tower was giving us winds in a True reference. I said “that doesn’t sound right, and that I believed he was mistaken”. He then called the ground controller, and asked how the wind was reported and the Tower said he was reporting it in True. Everywhere that I have looked, backs what I had mentioned, Mag spoken True written. Assumption is not good for cross wind landings with large Variation.

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