Do pilots still navigate?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by CharlieD3, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 Pattern Altitude

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    It's the title of an Air Facts Journal article linked below...

    How many of us rely on our EFB and maybe a backup app on our phone or the mounted glass in our cockpit, and don't bother with chart and compass?

    As a (c)rusty old pilot, I learned with a chart, a plotter, and an E6B... Before I got my ticket, while on my long XC, I actually circled a water tower to make sure I was on course.

    Apparently, many new hopeful pilots going on their check ride, hoping for the DPE to punch their ticket...

    I love the convenience of my Avare app but I still have a current chart and have looked at it and gotten all the pertinent info prior to my flights...

    Is this not SOP anymore?

    https://airfactsjournal.com/2021/04/are-pilots-still-navigating/
     
  2. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    I mean, on the rare occasions it makes sense to fly VFR without major airspace concerns for me, I'll use the GPS only for situational awareness and primarily plan based on the chart on my EFB and use those guides for pilotage. That said, VFR navigation was never simply about pilotage and dead reckoning, but also about using radio navigation and, later, GPS to navigate.
     
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  3. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Generally speaking everybody demonstrates the flight planning and cross country flying skills necessary for safe flight for their checkride. However, it's common for pilots to revert back to what the author was talking about afterwards unless they are working on their Commercial rating or something like that. I did my private pilot a few years ago in an airplane without GPS and I didn't carry an EFB so it was a great way to really focus on real cross country flying skills. When I worked on my instrument rating, most of those skills and that flight planning was set aside. When I started working on my commercial, I started to face the issue you are talking about.

    Today, to help me get ready for the cross country portion of my commercial pilot final stage check, I did a little experiment. First I reviewed my flight plan with my instructor to verify that it meets the ACS and is also logical. I did the flight planning in my EFB instead of on paper (the way I did it for my private) since I think it's unlikely I'll actually do paper and E6B style flight planning regularly as a commercial pilot or private pilot just flying for fun. I did not program the route into the airplane's 430w, but it did give me a bit of situational awareness due to the moving map (I could have turned it off if I really felt like it, but nah, I like those traffic alerts etc. I kept track of my ETAs to each waypoint on my iPad using Forflight. Then, after a few waypoints, I turned off my Stratus 3 to simulate I lost GPS. There were a few lessons learned about what I would need to do in that instance, but generally speaking the flight planning I had done in the EFB allowed me to start recalculating my progress once I got to my next waypoint. I plan to play around with these scenarios a bit more on future flights until I understand exactly how I should do a safe cross country flight while still taking advantage of all the technology on my lap and installed into the cockpit.

    This is not a trivial problem and if I earn my CFI rating I'm not sure how I will address it with my students. I need to think about it some more.
     
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  4. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    My CFI addressed over reliance on GPS, along with other private pilot skills, by working me up to my long cross country and having me do some of everything. Navigated to the first airport, on the longest leg, under the hood using only VORs (could only use the compass page on the GPS). Second airport was dead reckoning and pilotage. Finally could use GPS. Really helped hone the skills needed on the checkride (especially VOR tracking and hood flying), along with really needing to think about how to navigate.
     
  5. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    I know I didn't touch the GPS until immediately before my checkride and that was just because it was installed equipment and I had to know something about how to use it.
     
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  6. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Pretty much all my flights are direct—>enter—>enter. I wouldn’t have any issues going VOR to VOR if I needed to. I don’t know of any pilot pulling out a paper log and E6B unless they need to.
     
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  7. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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  8. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    The reality is, pilotage and dead reckoning is largely a buggy whip. It really isn’t a necessary skill any more than riding a horse is.
    That said, I think it’s cool to be master of my destiny without a gps.

    some like to travel on jetliners and stay in 4 star hotels, some like to hike and camp in a tent. To each their own.
     
  9. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Mine wasn't quite that extreme, but instead wouldn't let me touch the GPS until my first solo XC and even then only taught D>, enter, enter. Leading up to the checkride, I was taught about entering a flight plan.
     
  10. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    I would think some of this depends on where you live and fly.
     
  11. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    I have to admit, even though I learned with a paper chart, plotter and E6B in 1992, I fly with an IPad in my lap, an iPhone on the yoke and, depending on the plane, a 430 or 420 in the panel. I DO, however, keep a chart and paper plates at hand even though it’s usually outdated. In my opinion, relying solely on electronic wizardry with no manual, non electric dependent means of navigation whatsoever is asking for trouble.
     
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  12. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I guess it depends on your definition of "navigate." While I use GPS, the Sectional is usually open on my tablet and, being curious about what is around me, I take the opportunity to compare what I see out the window with what is on the chart. I don't expect to have any problem with pilotage if I lose positional feed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
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  13. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Aviate. Magenta lineate. Communicate.
     
  14. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    We still emphasize dead reckoning and pilotage as part of undergraduate low-level training, and some VFR nav sorties in the navigation block. We have the ability of taking the GPS line away from them, though these days all the students fly with geo-referenced EFBs so it's difficult to haze them with dead reckoning anymore :D
     
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  15. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't. My E6B is in the drawer with my PIckett slide rule.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
  16. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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    The thread title should have been ... "Are you a child of the Magenta?"
     
  17. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I got my PPL back in 1982 at 18 yrs of age. I got pretty good pretty quickly with just using VORs and ADFs to just fly to the needle. Very close technique in my opinion to flying to the magenta line like in today's GPS units.

    Yes, I did get lost a time or two but I could always find an ADF radio signal when I needed one. I always thought those were the best way to find your way back. I wish I still had one in my airplanes to be honest about it. I stupidly let myself be talked into taking one out on a panel upgrade a few years ago.

    I like my GTN750 and even my GNS430 in my Sundowner. I have both paired with a good NAV radio in their respective airplanes.

    I am subscribed to Sporty's paper chart service, but I can't remember the last time I pulled one out of my flight bag to use. I subscribe to both VFR and low IFR charts. Probably should at least cancel the VFR charts. I have two Android tablets in the plane and only use one at a time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
  18. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I like to VFR down in the weeds. GPS saved me from having to draw a line on the chart and calculate my ground speed, but I still need to keep my finger on the sectional for airspace/population/terrain/obstruction avoidance and for adding new obstructions.
     
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  19. RudyP

    RudyP Cleared for Takeoff

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    I can be a pretty big Luddite at times (my favorite cars have roll up windows and carburetors) but, despite learning to fly in the very early days of GPS and doing all my early flying in non-GPS equipped planes, I do not miss pilotage, dead reckoning and paper charts one bit.
     
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  20. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Yup. Some of us still navigate the old fashioned way.
    I should have also held up my E6B. And my ruler, which you can see (in it's black case) in my left pocket. Also a red pen to mark up way points on the map.
     
  21. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    I fly by the magenta line, but...

    1) I always have airports pulled up on my MFD, of which I know most in the US.
    2) Ive been across every inch of the country so many times, I could navigate NYC to LA just by city lights.
    3) The magenta line in my AC is probably derived from a larger set of inputs than many here.
     
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  22. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    Pilotage and dead reckoning are great skills to practice at home on your computer when you can't get into the sky. You don't need fancy controls or even a very-realistic flight model, just good-enough scenery.

    For example, with real-world weather enabled, set out across a Great Lake at low altitude on a heading with pre-calculated wind correction angle, and see if you make landfall at the time and place you predicted. Or try to follow roads, rivers, and powerlines from town to town.
     
  23. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Wow! 18 Hours! That’s gotta be a record! We’re you with your Mom?

    BTW Stephen, if you have GPS in any form, the “Direct To” will substitute wonderfully for an NDB.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
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  24. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If tomorrow during a long cross country you were doing using your normal cross country practices, GPS suddenly went out (oops you didn't check the GPS NOTAMS, or perhaps there's jamming or a system fault), would you be able to understand where you are, plan your next steps, get to a safe destination, and keep track of remaining fuel? When I did my experiment I described above (turn off Stratus mid cross country), I suddenly lost all information about how far ahead or behind of schedule I was. If I hadn't been paying close attention I would only have had a very rough idea of where I was. If I encountered any problems after that trying to get to my destination I might run out of fuel before I get on the ground (like the article in the OP discussed). I'd feel better if VORs weren't slowly getting phased out.

    Some people are more prepared for an unexpected loss of GPS than others. On days where GPS goes out unexpectedly over a large area I expect a fair number of "modern" pilots are going to find themselves in an urgent situation pretty quickly. I'm trying not to be one of them but my instrument rating spoiled me.

    Edit: Some areas have such complicated airspace that it's actually really tough to navigate without GPS nowadays too.
     
  25. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Worked for Lindberg! He went all the way across the Atlantic with nothing but the best compass he could put in the plane, a clock, and a carefully laid out chart. He fell asleep, iced up and circled and still was only six miles off course when he made land fall. Before that, he navigated the US with railroad maps.
     
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  26. Jumpmaster

    Jumpmaster Line Up and Wait

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    I don’t think airspace was as complicated “back in the day” as it is today which virtually mandates the use of some type of GPS in some areas of the country. Out here in the PNW, I still use a sectional map on occasion just to keep up on the piloting skills although I no longer use an E-6 but have an app instead (never could use one of those damn things) and could get along fine without GPS for the most part. That said, I like it, use it and have redundant capabilities but admit there can be a single point of failure if the system goes down.
     
  27. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I have never understood why some people find an E6B difficult. It’s the simplest mathematical aid except maybe a pencil. Of course I started using a slide rule in the sixth grade and went through college with it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
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  28. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Depending where you live, riding a horse is more important than you might think.
     
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  29. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    NOTHING fills a cockpit faster than a Sectional.

    But I do agree that it's best to use them in a high-wing taildragger...that way there's plenty of time to figure out how to re-fold them, before we get lost, when we get to the edge of the visible portion of the chart. :D

    I love GPS. :D Couple of weeks ago was doing an RNAV approach and as I made the turn onto the final approach course noticed my HSI had packed it in and frozen at the previous heading. Did the remainder of the approach using the GNS Default Nav page for lateral guidance.

    :yeahthat:
     
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  30. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    My slide rule is a K&R
     
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  31. ETres

    ETres Line Up and Wait

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    A friend of mine has a 172 with an old ADF that still works well. I think that's the simplest, coolest back-up nav instrument in existence.
     
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  32. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I knew about VOR and ADF before I started flying, it was no brainer for me. My instructor would cover them up to keep me from ‘cheating’ when I was supposed to be DRing and Pilotageing. I wonder if ‘Children of the White Needle’ was ever a thing:biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  33. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    How much will you value pilotage skill if you ever have an electrical or GPS failure? This stuff can and ones fail you know.
     
  34. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Read all the sentences in my post.
     
  35. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Yeah, but wat comes to my mind when his topic arises is the possibility of gadget failure. I’m a what if guy.
     
  36. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Pilotage and DR still work all over. It’s more about whether somebody wants to put in the effort to be good at it.
     
  37. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Always have a back up plan

    upload_2021-4-12_1-43-58.jpeg
     
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  38. texasclouds

    texasclouds Cleared for Takeoff

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    I
    Fly
    Roads

    F8E06B50-4E43-4CA6-8FDF-ECAF372B392B.png
     
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  39. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    That's only good if you stay close to home.
    If your plane has long range tanks you need to be a bit more comprehensive with your back up plan ;)
    (And you don't want to know what Jeppesen charges for the database updates for this option! :eek: )

    Milky Way Galaxy.jpg
     
  40. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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