We called it the south practice area. Flying over open fields and farmland in Georgia’s lake country was a good place to practice. There are plenty of emergency landing fields, few populated areas and little terrain. It’s quiet airspace, too. I’ll never forget my first time there on an early flight lesson.  I was asked the question “any idea how to get back home?” We had been flying in various directions, clearing the area and learning maneuvers, so I had no idea even the rough direction to head to get home. It became my first lesson on VOR navigation and is still my favorite way to navigate.

In most areas, there is a VOR you can use, and many of them are right on the airfield. This sort of topic is best explained with visuals, so I’ll set you up with some basics and then take you over to a flight simulator video to see it in action. Here are the different elements involved to practice this on the simulator – or feel free to skip right to the video.

 

Sectional Chart
If you don’t have a paper sectional chart or an app like Foreflight, you can pull one up here at Skyvector. This will give us the VOR information like the frequency and Morse code identifier.

VFR Sectional Chart of the Athens, Georgia, area (KAHN).

 

VOR Station
This is the station that transmits the signals that we use to navigate to or from it. It’s often on an airfield, but sometimes found off the airport.

Throw in a couple beach chairs on the balcony and we can have a VOR party.

 

Course Deviation Indicator
The CDI is the instrument in the airplane that makes sense of the signals coming from the VOR. Once the VOR frequency is entered into the Nav radio, the CDI will show us where we are in relation to the VOR station.

It looks a bit like a compass with cross hairs, but it’s easier to use than you think.

 

Come on over and fly along to see it all in action:

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