Building a VFR Flight Plan

General

This tutorial will show how to create a simple flight plan based on the map and its context menus.

The flight will take us through the lovely valleys of the French alps. You can use this flight plan for any small aircraft like the free Flight1 Cessna 162 SkyCatcher or the default Cessna 172.

The flight will only go through Class E airspace. There is no need to contact ATC.

The flight plan is: Meythet (LFLP) Parking 11, Ramp GA Small to Challes-les-Eaux (LFLE), 41 nm, 0 h 24 m, Direct

Departure Airport

Find the departure airport: Click into the map and zoom to the French Alps. You can use the following functions to navigate:

  • The map overlay on the left.
  • The mouse (click and drag) to move and the mousewheel to zoom.
  • The cursor keys to move and the keys + and - for zooming in and out (click into the map window to activate it before using the keys).

Use the back Back and forward Forward buttons to jump in the position history like a web browser.

See also Map Display.

Look for the departure airport Meythet (LFLP) around here: Meythet (LFLP) Closer with tooltip: Meythet (LFLP) Tooltip

Now:

  • Zoom in until you see the airport diagram showing taxiways, runway details, parking positions and more.
  • Zoom in further until you see the white parking numbers.
  • Right click on the center of one of the green ramp parking spots (11 is used here).
  • Choose Select Airport Meythet (LFLP) / Parking 11 as Flight Plan Departure Select Airport / Parking as Flight Plan Departure in the context menu.

Meythet (LFLP) Parking

This will select your departure parking position which will be highlighted by a black/yellow circle. The airport will be added to the flight plan as departure too.

You can also click on the airport icon and select it for departure. A runway will be automatically assigned as departure position.

En Route Waypoints

We add the waypoints now:

  • Scroll along the valley to the south east across the lake Lac d'Annecy.
  • Click Append Position to Flight Plan Append Position to Flight Plan. The clicked position will be added as an user defined waypoint to the end of your plan.

Click undo Undo or redo Redo if you don't like what you just added.

Append Waypoint

Another function is Add Position to Flight Plan Add Position to Flight Plan which will insert the clicked position to the nearest flight plan leg. You can use this to add user defined positions, airports or navaids in the middle of a flight plan. The nearest leg will be chosen automatically by Little Navmap.

Little Navmap will automatically assign names to the user defined waypoints. You can leave these as they are or replace them with a more meaningful name.

To change a waypoint name right click on the user waypoint and select Edit Name of User Waypoint Edit Name of User Waypoint. Use nearby villages, mountains, lakes or other points of interest.

The flight simulator limits the name to a certain length and to certain characters. Nothing will be added to the name if it is too long or if you type the wrong characters.

Edit Waypoint Name

Keep adding points and stay away from the mountains until you're at Challes-les-Eaux (LFLE).

Destination Airport

To add the destination:

  • Right click on Challes-les-Eaux (LFLE)
  • Select Set Airport as Flight Plan Destination Set Airport as Flight Plan Destination.

Select Destination

Now there is a flight plan. Yours might look a bit different.

VFR Flight Plan

You can also use the drag and drop feature to move points or add new ones. Enable it by checking Flight Plan -> Edit Flight Plan on Map Edit Flight Plan on Map and click on a flight plan waypoint to move it. Click on a flight plan leg to add a new waypoint into this leg.

See Map Flight Plan Editing for more information.

Cruise Altitude

Change the flight plan type to VFR if not already done.

Flight Plan Type

Now check the cruise altitude:

  • Look at the flight plan elevation profile. There is a red line indicating the minimum safe altitude.
  • Adjust the flight plan cruise altitude until you're above the red line.
  • Select Flight Plan -> Adjust Flight Plan Altitude Adjust Flight Plan Altitude to get the correct altitude adjusted by the hemispherical rule.

Note that the default hemispherical rule is not correct for France until you change it in the options dialog, but I'll avoid this for the sake of simplicity now.

Elevation Profile

You probably noticed that you will get close to ground near the destination. Be prepared to circumvent some mountains there.

Airspaces

Now look if your flight plan touches any airspaces.

Click into one of the airspaces nearby start and destination and have a look at the information dock window. There are several airspaces:

  • Geneva TMA Sector 8 which starts at 9,500 feet above mean sea level (MSL). This is higher than our cruise altitude and won't affect us.
  • Two Class E airspaces. The information window notes for these: Controlled, IFR and VFR, ATC clearance required for IFR only. No problem because we will fly using VFR.

The situation is similar at the destination.

Airspaces

Groundspeed

Now adjust the speed to your expected ground speed. This allows the program to estimate flying time for the whole plan and for the legs.

The speed is saved as an annotation in the PLN file. So when you load the plan into Little Navmap it will restore the given speed. The speed value has no effect in the simulator.

Note that the plan is static and will not change during flight.

Cruise Speed

Save the plan using File -> Save Flight Plan Save Flight Plan. The program usually finds the right directory for the flight plans and gives a sensible name by default.

Flying

Follow the steps below to get a moving map and see your aircraft in Little Navmap:

  • Open the dialog Connect using Tools -> Flight Simulator Connection Flight Simulator Connection and check if Connect automatically is selected. Enable it if not. Little Navmap will find the simulator no matter if it is already started or will be started later. Connect Dialog
  • Click Connect which will close the dialog.
  • Enable Map -> Center Aircraft Center Aircraft. The map will jump to the simulator aircraft and keep it centered if an active flight is loaded, i.e. the simulator is not in the opening screen.
  • Start the simulator if not already done, load the flight plan and go flying.

See also Connecting to a Flight Simulator.

Looking at Places while Flying

The program will stop following your aircraft if you start any action that zooms in to an airport or navaid (double click, toolbar button or link in the information window):

  • Double click on the destination airport for example to zoom to the airport diagram.
  • When done click the back button Back until you are back at your aircraft.
  • Then enable Map -> Center Aircraft Center Aircraft again to keep the aircraft centered.

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