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Cross-Country Planning
2010-03-18

Cross-Country Planning REFERENCES: AC 61-21, AC 61-23, AC 61-84, Charts, A/FD, AIM

P Obtains weather briefing, use of sectional, plotting course, checkpoint selection, computes time/heading/fuel, selects radio/nav aids, identifies airspace/terrain/alternatives, uses proper publications, completes navigational log, files flight plan, shows knowledge and accuracy.

EX Items to be covered in weather briefing, sectional data available, elements of navigation, checkpoint criteria, route and altitude factors, frequency log, alternative options, availability of AIM, complete navigational log, transfer of essentials to sectional,
(You will be given a flight to plan and time to do the planning. I would suggest getting a DUAT briefing along several routes ahead of time. Be able to explain how to obtain any figure required and its significance. Know the charts and radio frequencies.) Get NOTAMS ahead of time.

Give the briefer your complete call sign, time and route of flight. Ask for a complete briefing, record it if you can but tell the briefer. All briefings are recorded by the FSS. Ask for and get surface winds at enroute airports and destination, freezing level (Z-level), expected fog conditions, and NOTAMS. The complete briefing will include synopsis (big picture), winds aloft, flight conditions, area forecast, sequence reports, terminal forecasts, and radar summary. It is now possible to use a home computer to get the entire flight planned using a modem. By getting a broad briefing before meeting the examiner you can save yourself time that may be spent on FSS 'hold'.

Knowledge of the current sectional must include all elements on the legend, reference to the tower frequency tab on back of legend, use of directions for transferring course lines to both sides, game reserve restrictions, and data related to restricted areas. You should be able to locate any point from designated latitude and longitude and to use distance markings correctly.

You must proceed systematically. Use a pre-prepared scratch form to enter data from differing sources, FSS, manual, sectional, aircraft and computer. Wind direction and speed, TAS, TC to compute GS and TH, then variation and deviation. Be sure to have a copy of the deviation card from the aircraft. Transfer the data to your navigational log.

Select and mark your checkpoints using aircraft performance, visibility, and usability. Skill developed in training can save time. Determine minimum safe and appropriate cruise altitudes with call up/descent point.

Make a columnar frequency log for each com/nav radio. Arrange the frequencies exactly as you expect to use them and add supplementary frequencies to the side. Transfer this to a card that can be placed in view while flying. Use the card to keep the radio "ahead" of the airplane where practical.

Since it is unlikely that the entire course will be flown on the flight test, study the sectional. Plan for options, limitations, and factors. Put pattern altitudes of nearby airports on sectional along with frequencies and runway numbers. Get the use of an AIM from a subscriber. A back issue may satisfy the examiner if you let him know that the tower has a current edition available for pilots. Some airport offices also have the AIM. It is best for you to become familiar with its format and contents ahead of time. You may be expected to locate specific information contained in the AIM.

Complete the navigational log with time/distance/ ground speed/fuel use estimated between checkpoints. Transfer MC to the sectional course line along with fuel tank changes, VOR radial numbers, and descent/call up points. Fold sectional so that it is immediately available along with the radio log. The complete navigational log should be on a clipboard. You should make initial entry of times on the sectional and then transfer them to the nav-log. Have extra pens and pencils. Some of them could be hung from the clipboard by strings. Arrange your CHECKLISTS for convenient use.
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