Navigating from one point to another involves a few different methods, which are
used together for redundancy and improved situational awareness. These
methods are pilotage, dead reckoning, and radio navigation. In this
lesson, you will learn how to apply each of these different navigation methods,
as well as how to use them together.
Pilotage is navigation by the use of visual landmarks, such as roads, bodies of
water,power lines, railroads, etc. To aid in pilotage, aeronautical charts
depict these landmarks.
If we were to relate pilotage to driving directions, we might receive these type of
directions to the local airport, "Go down past the gas station, keep going on
past highway 41, and take a left at the diner. The airport will be
just over the first big hill there after you cross the interstate".
Dead reckoning is navigation by calculation. If you know the speed and
direction you need to go, then getting there is simply a matter of flying in
that direction for the right amount of time. Pilot's use estimated winds
aloft with their own performance calculations to make these estimated guesses,
which are quite accurate when done correctly.
During the course of the flight, pilotage is used to verify or correct dead
If a person were to give driving directions to the local airport, dead reckoning
style, it might sound more like, "If you drive the speed limit the whole
time, then drive east for about eight minutes. From there, make a left
turn and go north for twelve minutes, and you'll be at the airport".
Radio aids to navigation are also used to verify or correct dead reckoning
calculations while enroute. The signals from these navigation aids are
received by equipment in the airplane to give the pilot position information.
There are several types of navigation systems, which will be discussed in more
detail in the next few pages.Generally speaking, VORs and NDBs are two
different types of ground based radio transmitters commonly used in small
aircraft. GPS, a space based navigation system, is also commonly used.
A wide variety of receiving equipment is available for installation in the
airplane. Some of these systems simply state direction to or from a particular
radio aid. Others are more advanced, using computers to calculate position based on signals received from several radio aids.