# VFR cruising altitudes based on wind?

Asked by: **Aviatrix**
**8163** views
FAA Regulations, General Aviation, Student Pilot

I am a student pilot with close to 80 hours. I have a question about VFR curising altitudes I hope you can answer. As you know, when flying from 0 - 179 degrees...VFR pilots fly at odd+500 foot altitudes. 180 - 359, we fly at even+500 foot altitudes.

If I plotted a course on a map and found that my true course (i.e. - the line I drew on the map) was 010 degrees. Then I added or subtracted the magnetic variation (isogonic line) and found that my "magnetic course" (or is this called magnetic heading?) to be at 005 degrees.

THEN, I determined my wind correction angle was -7...so my "true heading" (the direction I point nose of the plane) was at 358 degrees.

HOWEVER, since my groundtrack (i.e. - magnetic value) was 005 degrees, wouldn't I STILL fly at odd+500 foot altitude since my groundtrack is East...even though my nose is pointed West?

My question therefore is do VFR cruising altitudes take into account WCA (wind correction angle)?

If the wind changes...my nose could be pointed Westerly while my track over the ground is Easterly...this could be a major headache in flight planning if you have to keep changing altitudes based soley on the direction your nose is pointing.

If it's based on COURSE and not on WIND...I'm wonding why the directions on my flight planning sheet tell me to calculate true course...THEN wind correction angle...THEN magnetic variation.

Shouldn't you want to calculate magnetic variation PRIOR to WCA in order to determine your cruising altitude? i.e.-see instructions below:

After determining the distance, the true course should be measured. If using a plotter, follow the directions on the plotter. The true course is 031°. Once the true heading is established, the pilot can determine the compass heading. This is done by following the formula given below:

TC ± WCA = TH ± VAR = MH ± DEV = CH

2.) Also, is "magetic course" the same thing as "magnetic heading?"

The following terms have been auto-detected the question above and any answers or discussion provided. Click on a term to see its definition from the Dauntless Aviation JargonBuster Glossary.