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How do you fly VFR in a desert?

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Granted, I haven't gone back & read my manuals to determine the answer, but here's my question...Let's say you've got your PPL, but you're not instrument rated, and let's pretend GPS isn't part of the equation here. How do you navigate an area that has no discernable features like rivers or roads or elevation changes? Do you use VOR's and NDB's? Is that legal? :-lol I know being instrument rated means more than just knowing how to read the instruments, but do they teach instrument flying for PPL? Thanks!

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You use dead reckoning, where you pull out your map and plotter, figure your winds, and measure a heading to fly. If done properly, as long as you stay on your calculated heading, you'll go where you planned on. You can also use VOR's and NDB's, if you can receive them.PPL training includes 3 hours of simulated instrument time, but that training is for if you go into the soup by accident. Pretty much, you learn to keep the plane level, and turn around to get out of the clouds.

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I am a Private Pilot rated for SEL only. VFR only. Part of the requirements is that yes you must know how to navigate via VOR and NDB's. You purchase up to date sectionals of the area you fly in setup a flight plan from your origin to destination and you can file your flightplan with the local FSS. This is not required but recommended as any pre-flight planning is a good idea. The weather enroute, outages for VOR and NDB's PIREPS...etc...etc....! Of course withe old GPS its makes it a lot easier...but you know what the GPS system does go down and have outages...so you have to back it up with the good old way of doing things. I still love using the VOR and NDB's!Tony Ascaso, RN

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>Let's say you've got your PPL, but you're not instrument >rated, and let's pretend GPS isn't part of the equation >here. How do you navigate an area that has no discernable >features like rivers or roads or elevation changes? Do you >use VOR's and NDB's? Is that legal? It's purely legal if they exist. These navigation aids are not limited to instrument ratings.I myself would just carry a GPS & a backup GPS. I have no plans of purchasing a ADF or nav equipment for my plane. Would check my heading & distance with the GPS and a map & then I'll at least have an idea if the GPS shuts down for a minute or two. Been using moving map GPS's since the early 90's and can't help it...........I suppose. :)L.Adamson

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Dear Mr. L. Adamson,If you have an IFR certified GPS, thus having continious RAIM (Random Autonomous Integrety Monitoring) you will NOT loose GPS signal. In order to maintain contious RAIM, the GPS MUST be continouly locked on 5 GPS Satellites at all times. When you go into approach mode, their is a function for locking onto 6 satelites. Loosing GPS signal in instrument conditions, especially on a GPS approach, would likely be fatal. I would have to look up the exact FAR reguarding GPS RAIM - Satelite (what degree orbit, etc.) to have 100% accurate data. But my example is very close to the FAR.Back to the navigating question proposed in the begining of the post. Dead reckoning is the least reliable method, depending on where the desert is. If your talking about the California deserts VOR or dead reconing would be ok. However, wind alofts will likely be different than forecast. Also, if your VFR navigating through the desert using VOR. You need to make sure that you are going to be at a high enough altitude to pick up the VOR signal, due to line of sight. Thus, I would recommend being at the IFR MEA on a VFR level. The MEA (Minimmum Enroute Altitude) depicted on a IFR enroute chart will provide guaranteed VOR signal continously throughout the entire route depicted by the MEA route. I believe that you can use the MOCA (Minimum Obstical Clearance Altitude) which is 1000' agl, but it will not guarentee VOR signal, however it can be used with IFR certified GPS navigation.Now if your talking about crossing the saharra purly VFR no VOR, GPS, etc. I would recommend going at night and follow the map of the starts like our old friend Christopher Columbus has done. By for now.Sincerely,ChuckyWanna play?

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>If you have an IFR certified GPS, thus having continious >RAIM (Random Autonomous Integrety Monitoring) you will NOT >loose GPS signal. In order to maintain contious RAIM, the I think the point of RAIM is that the GPS will let you know if it does lose a signal. Satellites do go out of service from time to time, and I think RAIM is intended to insure enough redundancy in the data to insure that you won't lose your GPS guidance in a critical moment. It is still possible to lose though, but a RAIM equipped GPS basically counts as your primary and backup instrumentation, which is what the FARs require IIRC.Also, I am unaware of any handheld GPS that supports RAIM.

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Yes, it is possible to loose a satelite signal or two. However, inorder to fly IFR with GPS it must be RAIM certified. I have flown a few hours of IMC using GPS. The FAA is very stringent regarding raim. RAIM predicts that during the approach phase you WILL have continous signal. IF you loose signal the GPS approach is immediately missed and go into hold for new approach. Thus, the GPS signal is VERY reliable when you use RAIM. I have flown on flown about 10 hours IFR with GPS and shot about 20 GPS approaches thus a total of about 20 hours, and have NEVER lost signal. I am talking about IFR RAIM certified panel mounted GPS's, not hand held. There are no IFR RAIM certified hand held gps's.

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OK...time for some humor (or is it?)....Follow the camel tracks......Sorry....couldn't resist....gwillmot

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"Loosing GPS signal in instrument conditions, especially on a GPS approach, would likely be fatal."Not neccesarily. Since GPS is not approved for use as sole enroute navigation information, you will still have at least 1 traditonal NAV radio, so you can still shoot a VOR, ILS, or NDB approach. So you go missed, call ATC, and ask for clearance for another approach.

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Someone needs to look at real world NOTAMS. GPS navigation is constantly being switched off in various areas around the globe as different jamming techniques are tested. This pre-dates the current political climate and is part of an ongoing process that seems designed to deliver a method by which GPS can be withdrawn or withheld from those whom the operators deem unworthy.Although the Americans have given assurances that the GPS satellites will not be switched off, there is always a likelihood that the GPS signal will be degraded or interrupted. And that is why no-one relies on GPS navigation solely - you still have all your eggs in one basket even if you have two separate GPS units. VOR's and ADF's also fail, but usually individually not globally. Once the European alternative is in place (2010, at last count) things might be different, but still the problem remains - `one out, all out`.Remember in the previous Gulf War everything stopped for twenty minutes each day as the satellites moved out of position and the GPS failed to function until orbits re-synchronised.A map will never fail you (although you may fail the map!), a stopwatch provides sufficient cross-reference information to be used for basic navigation and head out, rather than down, can often provide inforamtion that gives clues as to wind strength and direction. In the featureless desert, maps are still relevent, stopwatches are vital and the ability to `read` the sands below for wind cues is a life-saving skill. How do you think the Bedouin do it?ChasW

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Actually young IFR patione. GPS CAN be used for as the ONLY source of ENROUTE navigation. Infact on several long ifr cross courtries I compared GPS vs VOR enroute lines and I found GPS enroute was considerably MORE sensitive and accurate than VOR. You have much to learn my young apprentice.ChuckyWannna play???

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AIM 1-1-21, section e, subsection 1, paragraph b:"Aircraft using GPS navigation equipment under IFR must be equipped with an approved and operational alternate means of navigation appropriate to the flight. Active monitoring of alternative navigation equipment is not required if the GPS receiver uses RAIM for integrity monitoring. Active monitoring of an alternate means of navigation is required when the RAIM capability of the GPS equipment is lost."What I meant by GPS can't be your sole means of enroute navigation is that you can't have just a GPS in your plane and nothing else. You are required to have a backup NAV system.

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My young patione.. what do i do with you.The AIM is the Airmans Infomation Manual. It is NOT and FAA mandated FAR. Thus, it is NOT a strict rule it is recommened measures. If an accident occured the PIC would be responsible for all such descions. But would LEGALY be ok with just GPS RAIM certified of course. Of course your going to fly with an alternative mean of navigation such as VOR as a backup if you are in heavy IMC. That is unless you like to skydive or play russian rullet. However, as the FAR's dictate you can fly ENROUTE IFR and full GPS approach, provided you RAIM certified, IFR current, etc. etc. There are many many ways to legaly get what you want with the FAR's. Provided that you have a sound safe CONSERVITIVE judgment, you should be ok. You have much to learn my young apprentice.CHuckYWanna play... ???

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Well...you'd fly vfr over a desert with a good supply of water..:-)

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Dear God. What have I done? :-zhelpHa ha, no actually this was really helpful! I especially liked the bit about flying at night and using the stars. Now, I should mention that I really could care less about the desert (although, if the situation ever arises, I will take plenty of water and follow the camel tracks!) but what I was essentially getting at was how do you find your way around when you have no idea where you are on the sectional.These answers were perfect. Some of them I knew but had forgotten, but most importantly I have a better understanding of instrument navigation when you aren't instrument rated.Thanks very much all!

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>These answers were perfect. Some of them I knew but had >forgotten, but most importantly I have a better >understanding of instrument navigation when you aren't >instrument rated. >Need to get to the Hawaiian Islands from the west coast?Then dial it in on your GPS! With enough fuel, food, & bathroom facilities for 2500 miles, the GPS will get you to within a foot or two of your destination runway. I personally DO, consider even my handheld GPS reliable enough to get me there; it's at least as reliable as what my "single engine" would hopefully be. And BTW--- wouldn't have to be instrument rated either.......... unless your "holding" over the ocean with low fuel, because of island cloud cover which is typical during certain times of the day! :)The pilot in this link has flown around the world three times in his homebuilt experimental aircraft. It's quite interesting, navigation wisehttp://www.vansaircraft.com/public/jj-persn.htmL.Adamson

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I too am a private pilot, SEL, and I would plan accordingly. File flightplan, sketch out my route using sectional charts and a plotter, plus a handy flight calculator for fuel, winds, etc. And I would make sure I had plenty of sun block, blankets for night, and water. Just incase I end up having to put her down in the desert. Because I filed my flightplan with FSS, they will know to come find me along my plotted route when I don't show up at my destination. So I need enough supplies to last until they rescue me.

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I watched the World Air Routes United Airlines Boeing 777 DVD the other day. The Boeing 777 has the most advanced avionics in the world. Yet, UAL pilots sit down and actually PLOT out the checkpoints on a Atlantic Map just as a PPL would on a vfr sectional. The flight was from Chichago to O'Hare to London Heathrow. Increadible avionics in the B777. Their clearance is completely automated they don't need to talk to clearance they simply press a button on the MFD that prints out the exact detailed clearance without haveing to talk to anybody. WOW!! heheHere is the link: http://www.worldairroutes.com/United.htmlChucky,Wanna PLAY??

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