A CIESE Realtime Data Project

CIESE -Navigational Vectors - Lesson #5

Lesson #4

Lesson #5
Vector Components

Lesson #6

A) Real Time Flight Data

Use the flight information from Lesson 4. Refer to the flight data previously recorded from the Flight Tracker site as well as the flight diagram you constructed in Lesson 4.

Review the flight terms below and answer the following questions.
a) What is the definition of plane speed?
b) What are the units for speed?
c) What is the plane's speed (km/h) for the flight you selected in lesson 4? (One of these conversion calculators may help you.)

B) Resolving Vectors into Components

Assume that your flight is going to start its decent to the arrival location from its current position and that it will maintain its current velocity. Also, assume that the angle the plane makes with the ground is the same as you calculated in Lesson 4.

There is a highway directly below the flight path of the airplane and a car directly under the plane's current position is racing to the airport to meet the plane. Vector components can be used to determine how fast the car would have to be driven to meet the airplane when it lands.

  1. Draw a diagram similar to the one below that shows the plane's speed (km/h) and the angle the plane makes with the ground.


  1. Choose an appropriate coordinate system, and indicate the horizontal and vertical components of the plane's velocity on your diagram. See below for an example.

  2. Which component represents the velocity the car should go?

  3. What velocity would the car need to go to meet the plane at the airport?

  4. Why might the car velocity you determined above not be an accurate value?

  5. What is the plane's vertical rate of descent?

C) Ready to become a Pilot?

  1. Demonstrate how you could find the height of a tree, flagpole, or other tall object using only a protractor, meter stick and your knowledge of trigonometry. Assume that because of certain limitations you are not able to measure the height directly.
  2. Design an aid or technique (visual or otherwise) for teaching others how to find vector components.

  3. Air traffic controllers need to know the cloud ceiling at the airport which is the distance between the clouds and the ground. Devise a method that could be used to find this distance using trigonometry. (Optional)

  4. Find the resultant of two vectors that are not perpendicular by adding their vector components. (Optional)