Math meets aviation

August, 7, 2019 by

by tomthetank, Infinite Flight ATC Supervisor and CFI-G.

Dead Reckoning is a little bit more complicated, but we’ll still cover the basics. Dead Reckoning uses math to determine just what direction you have to travel, and for how long. In real life, you would need a map, a plotter, a compass, a stopwatch, and a navigation log. Infinite Flight provides a lot of those things, so all you need to do is some planning.

Start off by planning your start and end airports, and drawing a line between them. If you’re comfortable, you can use dead reckoning to fly direct between them, as long as your aircraft has the range. At this point, you need to determine a few things: your true airspeed (TAS)and your heading.

To save us all a bit of math, I’m going to refer you to for these calculations. Once you plug your information in, you’ll have a heading and a groundspeed.

Once you have your heading and TAS (True Air Speed) as well as a calculated groundspeed, you can figure out how long it’ll take you to travel between your waypoints.

This isn’t a perfect system though — you may get blown off course by the wind or something! Don’t worry, course corrections aren’t uncommon. There’s a good rule of thumb, the 1 in 60 rule. If you are 1 nautical mile off course (based on what you see on the ground versus your course line on your map), a course correction of 1 degree will have you back on course in roughly 60 nautical miles. A course correction of 2 degrees will have you back on course in half the distance, roughly 30 nautical miles. As always, keep looking out the window and making sure you know where you are relative to your plan!

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Kyle Boas is the Founder of the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Supervisor and Infinite Flight Appeals team member. — More