Pilot Courses of Instruction


Steve Sconfienza, Ph.D.

Airline Transport Pilot

Flight Instructor: Airplane Single and Multiengine; Instrument Airplane

cell: 518.366.3957

e-mail: docsteve@localnet.com


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Designed as the replacement for the old A/N ranges, the VOR has been the standard navigation aide now for over five decades. Briefly stated, the VOR provides a near continuous plan of airways along "radials" from due north of the station (000 degree radial) around to due north again. Radials are measured from the station, generally in whole degrees, and are selected by an "omni bearing selector" (OBS that -- traditionally -- rotates a card, with the track to the station on top of the display and the radial from the station on the bottom of the display (contemporary displays show the radial digitally). Note that the VOR receiver does not know the orientation of the airplane (i.e., what the airplane's heading is), so the display will display the same -- with respect to a given radial -- regardless of which direction the plane is flying at any given time.

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Orienting with respect to the VOR

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Tracking the radial TO or FROM the station

  1. Do not alter heading until some persistant wind drift becomes apparent.
  2. If a persistant wind drift becomes apparent (i.e., the needle moves left or right and contiues to move), take a 30 degree cut to the needle (i.e., into the wind)
  3. Hold heading until aircraft recrosses original bearing (it is unlikely but possible that an additinal cut into the wind would be necessary)
  4. Take-out 1/2 of the correction (15 degrees if a 30 degree correction was used)
  5. Hold a 15 degree wind correction angle and wait to determine if the needle drifts again
  6. Adjust wind correction angle as necessary to to hold the radial
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IFR: the Five Ts

The 5 Ts – Turn, Time, Twist, Throttle, and Talk – have been taught to generations of instrument students, myself included. They detail the series of actions taken at various points in an instrument flight where changes in course, heading, altitude, or airspeed occur, or where timing is begun or reporting is made. This is typically in the approach phase of the flight or upon entry into a holding pattern. There is a certain logic to the order, so they are generally presented in this sequence. Not all of the Ts are always needed (e.g., a non-precisison, VOR approach may be from straight-in, so no turn is required), but mentally running through the complete list is always appropriate.

Turn to the desired heading. You may need to turn to an intercept heading to get on the desired radial or bearing.
Time check for the start of the maneuver if needed (e.g., final approach fix inbound with time to the MAP).
Twist the OBS to the proper setting if necessary (a new radial or a reciprocal if transitioning to track inbound – but not with an NDB approach!).
Throttle back to reduce airspeed or begin descent
Talk, e.g., to ATC if required (or asked) to report, to announce position inbound at an uncontrolled, etc.