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F.I.T.

Aviation, LLC

VFR CROSS-COUNTRY FLIGHT PLANNING GUIDE

MATERIALS

1. Select proper and current charts and publications.

Sectional Charts
Terminal Area Charts
Airport Facilities Directory (AFD)
E6B Flight Computer
Plotter/Protractor
VFR Navigation Log
Airport Diagrams

PLANNING THE ROUTE

2. Locate the departure and destination airports. Refer to the coordinates for the
airports listed in the Airport/Facility Directory (AFD).

3. Draw a straight line from the center of the departure airport to the center of the
destination airport; this is the true course line.

a. Verify the route does not pass through any special use airspace (restricted,
prohibited, TFR’s, etc…) that would not permit VFR flight. If it does,
plan the route to avoid those areas.
b. If the course line extends from the North to the South section of the chart,
refer to the instructions on the back flap of the sectional chart to draw the
course line.
c. If radio navigation facilities are to be used, draw the course line from the
center of each facility. Also, enter the name of the NAVAID, the
identification code, frequency, and radial on the front of the log.
d. Record the departure airport in the space provided on the VFR Navigation
Log.
e. Measure the distance between airports using nautical miles with the
plotter.

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f. Record total distance on the top section of the log.
g. Choose a prominent on-course checkpoint about five miles from the
departure airport and then select check points that are 10 to 15 miles apart
for the remainder of the flight.
h. Choose checkpoints that are easily recognizable in poor visibility or at
night, e.g., prominent bends in roads, crossroads, rivers, the edge of large
lakes, etc…
i. Choose check points that are as near perpendicular to the true course line
as possible. Draw a short perpendicular dash line across the course line at
each checkpoint.
j. Record the checkpoints in order beneath the departure airport starting with
the on course checkpoint. Refer to step #16 in order to combine Top of
Climb with an enroute checkpoint.
k. Measure and record distances between checkpoints on the log.
l. Subtract the distance between the first checkpoint from the total distance
and for each subsequent checkpoint from the distance remaining.

PLOTTING THE COURSE

4. Using the plotter protractor, determine the True Course (TC) and enter it in the
log under “TC”.

5. Using the sectional chart, determine the Magnetic Variation and compute
Magnetic Course (MC). Record both on the log. Recalculate MC with different
variations if you cross different Isogonic lines of variation along your route.
Remember East is least and West is best (E = - and W = +).

Note: The previous steps in planning a cross country flight can normally be
completed before the planned departure date; however, the following steps involve
the use of current weather conditions on the departure date.

WEATHER BRIEFING

6. On the scheduled departure date, obtain the current and forecast weather
conditions by calling a Flight Service Station (FSS,) at 1-800-WXBRIEF, to
request a standard weather briefing. Record the following information on the
back of the log for:

a. Adverse conditions.
b. A synopsis of weather fronts and systems.
c. Departure and destination airport METARS and TAFS.
d. En-route METARS and TAFS.
e. Winds aloft for appropriate altitudes.
f. Pilot Reports (PIREPS).
g. Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS).
h. Other flight advisories such as Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR’S).

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7. Interpolate winds aloft en-route and record on the back of the log. Use surface
winds for cruising altitudes below 3000 ft. AGL.
PLANNING THE ALTITUDE

8. Determine the altitude for each leg of flight and enter in log. Consider:

a. The advantages of flight at higher altitudes include: a higher True


Airspeed (TAS) of approximately 2 knots per 1,000 ft., lower fuel
consumption, less haze, less air traffic, smoother and cooler air, and
greater gliding distance.
b. Terrain and obstruction clearance: Do not use an altitude lower than 1,000
ft. AGL, or lower than the Maximum Elevation Figures (MEF) found on
the sectional chart.
c. Ceiling and distance from clouds appropriate to the airspace within which
the flight is to be conducted, en-route visibility, and winds.
d. Determine an altitude for flight levels based on Magnetic Course for
altitudes above 3,000 ft. AGL, (East/Odd thousands plus 500 ft.),
(West/Even thousands plus 500 ft.).

AIRCRAFT PERFORMANCE

9. Using the aircraft performance charts from the appropriate airplane information
manual and en-route data, determine the True Airspeed (TAS) at 75% Best Power
Cruise Performance. Record TAS on the FAA Flight Plan box #4.
10. Determine fuel consumption rate in Gallons per Hour (GPH), and record in the
Aircraft Fuel Management section on the back of the log.
11. Compute and record the cruise engine performance (RPM), from the Engine
Performance chart, and enter onto log in the designated box under Engine Power
Settings on the front of the log.
12. Calculate Manifold Pressure (MP) if flying the Arrow or Seminole.
13. Using the E6B, compute the Wind Correction Angle (WCA), True Heading (TH),
and Ground Speed (GS).

a. Use the en-route cruise climb airspeed as GS until reaching the top of
climb.
b. Record WCA, TH, and GS on log.
c. TC + VAR = MC + WCA = MH + DEV = CH.

14. Compute the Estimated Time En-route (ETE) between checkpoints with the E6B
using the appropriate ground speeds, round off to the nearest minute and record
on log. Enter the total time en-route on the top of the log.

Note: the purpose of computing ETE’S is to enable you to know when to expect your
next checkpoint and to help you maintain your en-route orientation.

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COMPLETING THE AIRCRAFT FUEL MANAGEMENT LOG

15. For Taxi/TO time and fuel use the following numbers for their respective
airplanes:

PA28-161: 10 min., 1.1 gal.


PA28R-201: 10 min., 1.2 gal.
PA44-180: 10 min., 2.7 gal.

16. Using the Fuel, Time, and Distance to Climb graph calculate the following:

a. Fuel, time, and distance to climb.


b. Mark a Top of Climb checkpoint (TOC) on your sectional. If possible,
combine an en-route checkpoint with your TOC.

17. Using the E6B, determine the fuel required for each leg and record on the front of
the log.
18. Subtract the fuel used for each leg from the fuel remaining and record on log.
19. Using the Fuel, Time, and Distance to Descend graph calculate the following:

a. Fuel, time, and distance to descend.


b. Mark a Top of Descent checkpoint (TOD) on your sectional. If possible,
combine an en-route checkpoint with your TOD.

Note: This descent profile will position the aircraft at the proper altitude and distance
from the airport for pattern or uncontrolled field entry. (1,000-1,500 ft. AGL and 3-5
NM from the airport)

20. Using the total distance to be traveled during the flight, subtract the previously
calculated distance to climb and distance to descend to establish the total cruise
distance. Using the E6B and the previously computed GS, compute the total time
spent at cruising altitude. Use this time to calculate total fuel used during cruise
and enter on the log.
21. Apply the appropriate FIT fuel reserves and enter onto log.
22. Add the total times and total fuel required to complete the Aircraft Fuel
Management Log.

COMPLETING THE VFR FLIGHT PLANNER

23. Using the AFD draw a runway diagram on the log. Include runway lengths, field
elevation, traffic pattern altitude, direction of arrival, and any other pertinent
information. If available, download actual airport diagrams from Internet sites
such as Air Nav.com/AOPA.

24. Record frequencies for departure and destination airports on log. Also, include
any other approach or center frequencies required for the flight

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25. Using the data from the VFR Flight Planner, fill out a flight plan for each leg of
the flight and call the FSS to file your flight plans.

26. Compute a Takeoff and Landing Distance (TOLD) card.

27. During the pre-flight inspection, determine the aircraft’s deviation listed on the
compass card and adjust Magnetic Heading (MH) to obtain Compass Heading
(CH), then record deviation and CH on the navigation log.

28. During the line-up check, record the Time Off and the Estimated Time of Arrival
(ETA) for the first checkpoint.

29. Maintaining the flight log en-route:

a. Open the flight plan when clear of the departure airport’s airspace or
request a frequency change if operating from a controlled airport.
b. Record Actual Time of Arrival (ATA) and Actual Time En-route (ATE) at
each checkpoint.
c. Use ETE to calculate ETA at next checkpoint.
d. Conduct ground speed checks and adjust ETE’S if the observed Ground
Speed (GS) is more than 10% different from your pre-flight calculations.
e. Monitor your position at all times and adjust compass heading to maintain
your Desired Track (DTK) over the ground.
f. Monitor fuel management during flight. Assuming full fuel at takeoff,
switch tanks after each hour of flight. Keep a log of the time when you
last switched fuel tanks in the notes section of your flight log.
g. Practice giving Pilot Reports to FSS when un-forecast weather conditions
are encountered.
h. Amend the flight plan if it becomes necessary to divert
i. Close the flight plan upon arrival at destination or upon opening flight
plan for the next leg if conducting a touch and go.

DO NOT FORGET TO CLOSE YOUR FLIGHT PLAN AS SEARCH AND


RESCUE OPERATIONS WILL BEGIN THIRTY MINUTES AFTER YOUR
ETA HAS EXPIRED!!!