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Lesson 3i - Navigation

Lesson Objective

Prior to solo, the student will learn local landmarks and how to judge distance from the airport and glide range in order to assure safe return for a normal pattern and landing.  Prior to checkride endorsement, the student will learn how to plan a cross-country task for landing at another airport.  As an optional post-solo task, the student may be introduced to basic navigation tools including glide computers and GPS-based moving map applications.

Regulatory Requirement

Private Pilot Candidates:  (Maneuvers and procedures for private pilot in a glider) §61.107(b)(6)(viii) “Navigation”


Instructor demonstration:

  • Local area orientation inflight to include landmarks, bearing/distance references, and estimating conservative safe glide returns to the pattern.
  • Ground training to include map reading, plotting a course, identifying usable airfields, use of printed charts and supplement, obtaining and using weather forecast products, and planning a cross country task with enroute alternates.

Student practice:

  • On every flight, be able to identify the airport and estimate your position and the altitude required to conservatively arrive back at the normal pattern.

Completion Standards

The student must be able to explain:

  • Local area landmarks and rules of thumb for safe return to the pattern.
  • The difference between best advertised glide ratio for the glider being flown, realistic best glide as configured for the flight, expected glide ratio adjusted for winds and sink, and conservative planning factor for unknown conditions.
  • The difference between true and magnetic heading, how to correct for compass installation errors and maneuvering effects, and how to correct for estimated winds.

The student must be able to perform:

  • Identification of and navigation to nearby local landmarks.
  • Estimation of current position, distance and heading to the airport, and required altitude.
  • Consistent return to the airfield with conservatively safe altitude for a normal pattern.
  • Planning a cross country task to include plotting the course, identification of suitable airfields and out-landing areas, identification of airspace restrictions and impacts, communication requirements, weather forecasts including soaring conditions, planning for glide distance required to safe landing areas along the course.

Prerequisite Study

Recommended Study

Optional Glide Computer Task

If the student wishes to explore available glide computer and GPS-based moving map options, they are encouraged to work with an instructor to obtain and configure any simple tools on the hardware platform of their choice, independent of links to glider hardware.  These may include applications such as SeeYou Navigator or XCSoar for Android hardware, and SeeYou Navigator or Lufty or iGlide for IOS hardware.  Even simpler free options may include GPS applications that show current position and altitude and provide range and bearing to a target location such as the home airport.  The focus should be on doing the preparation before flying to allow the tools to be used with minimum distraction inflight.  Preparation would need to include configuration of data files for airspace, maps, airfields and turnpoints, and glider performance data.  Inflight practice may include flying a declared simple course to turnpoints within easy glide distance of the airport.

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