Are you on a Collision Course?

When an aircraft approaches you head-on, you are on a collision course. When you are following directly behind a slower plane, you are on a collision course. In these cases, it’s easy to tell that you are on this collision course and you can quickly decide to correct by turning to the right.

But what if another plane approaches at an angle? How can you quickly determine if you will collide or not?

Luckily there is an easy way to figure this out immediately!

Ask yourself,  is the other plane moving across my window? Look at the other plane and which part of your window it is in.

  • If it is not moving then you are on a collision course
  • If it is moving forwards then it will pass in front of you
  • If it is moving backward then it will pass behind you

Note: “Forwards” means that the plane appears to be traveling across your windscreen in its forward direction. “Backwards” means that the plane is moving across your windscreen towards its tail (although in reality it is obviously still going forwards).

You must decide in each situation how to handle it. A good rule of thumb I use is to give way and pass behind the other plane if it only requires a small course correction. This works in most cases and it tends to be safer because the pilot in the other plane may not see you.