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6 Answers

How are you planning VFR cross country flights these days?

Asked by: 17672 views General Aviation, Private Pilot

Generally speaking do most (responsible) VFR pilots still use the sectional / nav log method for planning cross country flights? I've looked at a few different online tools such as duat/duats/AOPA/Fltplan but none seem to let me add simple user waypoints along the way like I would on a sectional. Eg, "Insersection of interstate and lake XXX, 1mi south of XXX".

6 Answers



  1. Sam Dawson on Jan 08, 2013

    iPad. Prior to my iPad I used Voyager by Seattle Avionics, now Voyager Duats.
    https://www.seattleavionics.com/Voyager/DownloadRequestFreeFlight.aspx

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  2. Wes Beard on Jan 09, 2013

    Since locating and using http://www.skyvector.com I use their website extensively to plan out VFR and IFR cross countries in small airplanes.

    It really is great. Input departure and destination airports and a magenta line will popup. You can select different charts to right-click and make user waypoints on. It is also so much easier to determine the best IFR route as well as you can see which routes take out closest to your destination airport.

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  3. Gary Moore on Jan 09, 2013

    I’m a big fan of iflightplanner.com

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  4. Heather H on Jan 14, 2013

    Thanks for the replies so far, anyone use a mix of paper/electronic? It feels like you’re trained to do it one way (nav log/waypoints/etc) as a student but then find out nobody does it that route in the real world.

    Or, do you plan it using an electronic tool to do the time/fuel/headings and then physically draw your plan on a sectional to be sure you’re on course as a backup?

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  5. Chris Carlson on Jan 20, 2013

    While talking to an examiner about the classic ‘can I use my iPad on my checkride’ question, he mentioned two things; first, is that you should go into a checkride the same way you would go into any flight, he wants to make sure we will be safe after the ride, and so we should demonstrate how we fly on a day to day basis, In other words, use your electronic planner,because it is what is normal for you. The other thing he mentioned, is that he stil wants to know that you know how to do the calculations and choose good points, so do a small bit of it on paper (in addition to the electronic planner)

    For example, I use foreflight for every flight, but for one where I do not have local knowledge, I also jot down on paper the vfr references (bridge over river next to tower, etc) so if my iPad fails, and I am at my minimum visibility (have checkpoints as close together as your personal minimum visibility for the flight) I can still get to my destination.

    In short, use electronic means for flight planning, it is very quick, simple, and accurate, but also have a backup plan in the cockpit, electronics tend to fail when you need them most. Don’t rely on the electronics so much that your foget how to do it ‘the hard way’ because that is the root of comprehending the entire cross country planning subject

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  6. Chris Carlson on Jan 20, 2013

    Use a combination! Electronics tend to fail when you need hem most, but they are extremely useful- accurate and fast. Make your checkpoints by lat/long o. The ‘river crossing railroad’ type checkpoints, and then refer to them in your paper copy that you print out, by describing what the checkpoint is, and not only its lat/long.

    I used foreflight every time, and I make a paper copy the old fashion way every time I go somewhere where I lack local knowledge. This way I have a great backup plan that doesn’t require batteries, and I am able to stay refreshed on how to plan a cross country and do the math, because without that knowledge, interpreting the electronic one may become difficult if things change.

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