This document describes the expectations of a Student pilot in terms of cross-country planning. Cross-country planning can be a self-study option and before your first cross country you'll spend about 30 minutes explaining your planning to your instructor and then you'll fly the dual cross-country together. An alternative is to work with your instructor in a ground school session to plan a cross-country. A cross-country ground school session should be about 2 hours.
There are also books on various aspects of VFR cross-country planning, at the end of this document there are some recommendations.
What you want to avoid is scheduling for a 2 hour session and turning up without a cross country plan and expecting to fly.
**** This document was written while I was training out of uncontrolled airports. While it still generally holds true, pilots who train out of RDU need practice finding uncontrolled fields more than they nee practice going to controlled airports. One day I'll revise the whole document. ****
This is not a detailed explanation of how to perform cross country planning, it's just a list of the steps you'll go through. You should have reference books that explain all this, or your instructor will cover it with you in Ground School.
Repeat this for each leg of the cross-country. At the end you should have a separate nav. log for each leg of the flight and at a minimum have the following information available for each segment from checkpoint to checkpoint:
As we fly each leg we'll note the Actual Time (in minutes past the hour), calculate an Estimated Time of Arrival (in minutes past the hour) and note our Actual Time EnRoute to compare with our estimates. In the event that our actual and estimated times vary significantly we'll have to consider our fuel consumption and may need to recompute our Actual Fuel Used and make new Fuel Estimates.
If you're doing your flight training with me then you should already have a copy of the post-solo syllabus. You should expect that your cross-country training and solo cross-countries will follow this pattern. Other instructors may have other plans, talk to your instructor about your cross-country training plan.
This is designed to efficiently train you to safely perform cross-country flight. If you or I feel that you need additional cross-country training, we'll add it to the schedule. Of you want more exposure to tower controlled airports we can make some trips to local airports for the experience.
Which airports we go to is up to you. Obviously I have some recommendations and you may find that there are some airports I veto (for example you won't be getting a sign-off for repeated trips to RDU unless there's a good reason for it). Make sure you've discussed your airport choices with me before you go to the trouble of planning a flight I might not think is appropriate.
Every Student Pilot does, and here's why.
The FAA wants it done this way, and that's the way you'll be expected to perform cross-country flight planning on your check ride.
You need to know how to do this so that WHEN you make long cross-country flights using the maximum range of your aircraft you can plan them and fly them safely. Ensuring that you have enough fuel when you takeoff and reviewing the fuel requirements in flight to make sure you have enough fuel to land. By using pilotage you can navigate by looking out of the window even if all the electronics in the plane or on the ground go kaput!
But does everybody do this before every flight they take? Not really, once you're familiar with various airports and routes that you routinely fly you can "flight plan" on a blank 3x5 postcard. Once you're a Private Pilot ask your instructor to show you some short cuts to flight planning.
Here are some suggestions for books you may want to invest in to help you understand VFR cross-country planning.
Version 3 - 8/24/2002