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3 Answers

Picking a VFR altitude

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Private Pilot

My kneeboard has  a chart for remembering which altitudes to pick based on your heading, but it says all courses are magnetic.  Does this mean that you have to pick you altitude based on the final heading you get after you compensate for the winds aloft and magnetic variation?

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3 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Matej Dostal on Jan 19, 2011

    Hi, it’s based on your magnetic track. If your planned track is 355 deg magnetic and you compensate for starboard winds by flying a heading of 005 deg magnetic then you use the 355 deg mag track to determine your altitude.

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  2. MaggotCFII on Jan 19, 2011

    Adding to Matej’s answer:
    FAR 91-159 – VFR cruising altitude or flight level.
    Defines the altitude to be flown when more than 3000′ above the surface.  The word course is used.
    AIM, Ch 3 at 3-1-5 VFR Cruising Alttitudes and Flight Levels presents this is a Table format.  Note that the table has Magnetic Course (Ground Track) making the terms synonymous. (Table follows)
    There are folks that apply these altitudes as MSL from the surface up.  But that’s another discussion.
    If you don’t have a FAR/AIM hard copy, both the FARs and the AIM are available at faa.gov.
    Blue Skys and Tail Winds!
    TBL 3-1-2 VFR Cruising Altitudes and Flight Levels

    If your magnetic course (ground track) is:

    And you are more than 3,000 feet above the surface but below 18,000 feet MSL, fly:

    And you are above 18,000 feet MSL to FL 290, fly:

    0�  to 179� 

    Odd thousands MSL, plus 500 feet (3,500; 5,500; 7,500, etc.)

    Odd Flight Levels plus 500 feet (FL 195; FL 215; FL 235, etc.)

    180�  to 359�

    Even thousands MSL, plus 500 feet (4,500; 6,500; 8,500, etc.)

    Even Flight Levels plus 500 feet (FL 185; FL 205; FL 225, etc.)


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  3. Jesse on Jan 19, 2011

    thanks for the help!

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