Cross-Country Planning

  1. Prior to starting VFR cross country planning, the student pilot should have the following items: current sectional charts, plotter, flight computer, pencil/black ball point pen, Airport/Facility Directory, and a X-C planning sheet.
  2. Draw a straight line center of airport to center of airport, with doglegs as necessary for restricted areas, etc. NOTE: Straight line distance must be more than 50 NM, 100 NM, or 250 NM, as the case may be, for FAR 61 cross country requirements. It is suggested to use a large pencil to draw the line for the cross country. This way the line can be erased when the trip is finished and the chart will not become cluttered with unnecessary and often confusing course lines.
  3. Make sure to use the sectional side of the plotter.
  4. Measure distance in nautical miles.
  5. Measure true course.
  6. Determine magnetic course to determine cruising altitude (0-179 degrees fly odd 1000s +500ft; 180-359 degrees fly even 1000s +500ft) starting above 3000ft AGL.
  7. Determine highest obstacle 4 NM either side of course.
  8. Determine checkpoints. Some advice concerning the determination of checkpoints; everything a pilot sees on the ground, that is also on the sectional chart, is a checkpoint. Checkpoints used for the determination of groundspeed estimates should normally be prominent landmarks, such as 4 lane highways, large lakes, larger cities, roads and railroads running together, etc. An initial groundspeed check should be made within approximately 25NM of the departure point. This check should be made after reaching cruise altitude. After this, a groundspeed should be made approximately every 50 NM.
  9. Consult Sectional Chart Bulletin in Airport/Facility Directory.
  10. Obtain all frequencies from Airport/Facility Directory. Be sure to include approach control, tower, ground control, ATIS, clearance delivery, FSS, Unicom, VOR and NDB frequencies for the entire flight.
  11. Steps 1 through 9 may be done in advance of the day of the flight.
  12. Go to weather planning. Inspect the surface analysis chart, weather depiction chart, radar summary chart and the low level prog. chart. Also, get all applicable sequence reports, notams, terminal forecasts, area forecasts, winds aloft forecasts, airmets, sigmets, convective sigmets and the latest radar weather information.
  13. Using the information, determine if the weather will permit the flight.
  14. If the weather will permit the flight, determine cruising altitude.
  15. Using the power charts for 65%, determine TAS, fuel flow, and RPM necessary for 65% power.
  16. Determine groundspeed, estimated time enroute , and magnetic heading. It is suggested that cruise groundspeed be used for the entire distance, adding one minute for each 1000 feet of climb and five minutes for each approach and landing, to determine estimated time enroute.
  17. Determine total fuel used and fuel to be remaining on landing. All solo cross countries must land with a minimum of 6 gallons per tank.
  18. Calculate the weight and balance data.
  19. Determine takeoff and landing distances.
  20. File a flight plan.
  21. Remember, you must obtain an “official weather brief” prior to departing on a cross country flight.

* Have fun and enjoy your flight *