This simple tip will keep you from getting more lost and help you to find out where you are.
I have been publishing Youtube videos that show how to navigate using your map and compass. There is a lot that goes into navigation and a lot to know about the map and how to find your way.
When it comes down to the actual practice of navigation, the experience is king. The best way to learn is by going step by step through navigation scenarios. That’s why I do these videos on Youtube. I want to show people how to take a real-world sectional and navigate in the simulator. It is a great way to learn how to use the map and compass. It’s much less expensive than real flying too!
Check out my latest video navigating between some restricted areas:
A VHF Omnidirectional Range is commonly called a VOR. In some ways, it is like a more-advanced NDB.
To understand what the VOR does take a look at the chart below. Notice the large blue VOR ring, indicating that there is a VOR station at the center. We will dig into what that all means to you as a pilot but first, take a look at the thin blue lines radiating out in several directions from the edge of the VOR ring. Continue reading “VHF Omnidirectional Range”
I was on a progress check flight early in my commercial training and the Chief Flight Instructor decided to play a trick on me. I learned an important lesson from this flight.
We got the plane started at Chandler (KCHD) and he asked me to fly him to Gateway (KIWA). I noticed the 2 class D airspace areas are squished together with no space in between! Continue reading “Flying Between Towers”
The common answer to seeing the map while flying at night is the red flashlight. Red flashlights are great because they don’t mess up your night vision. However, when it comes to reading the map, red is a poor choice. Continue reading “Reading a map with a flashlight”
The Automatic Direction Finder is an instrument built shortly after the discovery of fire.
It is out of usage now and Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) stations are simply turned off if they break down.
However, despite its slow disappearance, you may very well find one in a plane you fly, and it doesn’t hurt to know how to use it.
The ADF at its core is very simple. It’s just an arrow that points to the NDB station.
Some ADF’s have a moveable compass card in them that can be set when using the ADF. However, many do not contain a gyro and the card will not turn when the plane turns. Rather, you set it while straight and level and use it to navigate. Once you turn you will need to set it again.
There are also ADFs with a slaved compass that rotates to show your current heading. These are more convenient, but either way, it is still a simple instrument.
How to use the ADF
To use it locate an NDB station on your chart with the symbol below.
See the Rainbow NDB station in the center of the image below. The magenta information box to the left contains the name of the station, its frequency (363), its ID (RNB) and the morse code to identify it.
To fly to an NDB station simply tune its frequency and turn so the arrow is pointed up. Don’t forget to listen to the station ID just like you would for a VOR.
It isn’t too much more complicated than that. If you want to approach the station on a specific heading then it helps to visualize your current situation before acting.
For example, say you want to approach Rainbow from directly South of the station. The needle is currently pointing to a heading of 330. This means that you are South East of the station. I like to look at the needle and then point out the window in the direction of the station. It helps me to get more situational awareness and determine which way to go. If you want to approach heading 360 then you will need to go to the left and watch the needle until it is pointing directly North.
Try this out next time you have access to an ADF, because it may be your last chance!
The ADF has one more important but little-known feature. It happens to fall on the same range of frequencies as AM radio so if there are any good stations in your area you can listen to them. Just tune to the station and press the ADF button on your audio panel. Instead of hearing morse code, you will hear AM radio. As you listen, the needle will point to the radio stations antenna as well!
The world is always changing. Airports change frequencies or close, new radio towers are built, approaches are changed.
For this reason, a GPS database has an expiration date. After that date is passed the GPS can’t be used for IFR anymore.
Of course, nobody would buy a GPS that suddenly just can’t be used so the database can be updated. Continue reading “How the GPS stays up to date”
A modern GPS does a few things to test itself and verify that everything works. Once the system loads there are a few things for you to do to make sure it is ready to go. For this post, I will use a Garmin 530. Other GPS systems may vary somewhat in how they operate. Continue reading “GPS Self-Test”