Airplane Lost

Posted by Admin on

We can end up lost for many reasons: Stronger winds than expected can blow us off course; radio navigation equipment can fail or give erroneous readings; we could have picked the wrong heading to fly through misreading the map as we planned our flight. Using an outof-date sectional chart could have us dialed into a VOR using the wrong frequency; there are more reasons for getting lost than can be listed. Whatever the reason, though, we need to cross-check what we are doing often enough to assure that we do not have a single point of failure as we plan, then execute, our cross-country flights.

Use current charts and weather information as you plan your crosscountry flights to help assure that your planning is accurate. Frequently verify the radio navigation equipment by cross-checking the information against what you see outside the window and on your sectional chart. By using several methods of figuring out your position, you can prevent having one failure cause a real emergency.

But what happens if you have done all of these things and you suddenly do end up lost? What can you do to help get yourself “found” again? First and foremost, keep flying the airplane. If you quit flying the airplane and let the heading or altitude get away from you, you have already lost the battle. If you are unsure of your position, you actually have several options. Many of us do not want to call and ask for help, egos being what they are, but that is a very easy way of getting out of the situation. There are very few areas in the country any more that are beyond radio communication. If you are equipped with a radio, you may ask for help to locate you, and the controllers will be more than happy to tell you where to go. If equipped with a VOR, you may cross-check your bearing from two or more VOR stations and triangulate your position. More and more aircraft are flying with GPS, which is an incredible piece of equipment. They often have a “nearest” function, which provides headings and distance to the nearest airport. If you have a properly functioning GPS on board, you should not get lost, but if you do it should be able to help you get to an airport with little difficulty.

The worst lost situations are when you are low on fuel, with poor weather conditions at night. Proper management of fuel and monitoring weather as your flight progresses can help you stay out of this particularly bad scenario. Who among us has not thought, “I can get there before things get too bad,” trying to squeak into an airport before nightfall or weather makes the situation dangerous. “I want to sleep in my own bed tonight,” has probably caused more crosscountry related accidents than we realize. Don’t set yourself up for low-fuel, poor-visibility, cross-country flights trying to stretch the range of the plane. Common sense can do much to keep your options open.

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