A CIESE Realtime Data Project

CIESE -Navigational Vectors - Test Flight

Lesson #8

Pilot Test Flight

Lesson Index

Now that you completed all of the pilot training exercises you are ready for your test flight as a flight navigator!

  1. Use the Flight Tracker web site to select a random flight for your test flight or you can use a previously selected flight (airline and flight number) provided by your flight instructor (teacher). Record all of the information given for your selected flight.
  2. Plot the plane's departing location, arrival location, and approximate current location on a map. What is the plane's ground speed (km/h) and directional heading (degrees)?
  3. What is the wind speed (km/h) and wind direction (degrees) at the plane's location?
  4. At what air speed (km/h) and course heading (degrees) is the pilot flying the plane? Use vectors to determine this.
    As a pilot, you must be prepared for any situation. Suddenly, a medical emergency arises. You must land the plane as QUICKLY as possible or you will lose a passenger. You must choose an airport where you will land the plane.
  5. Identify two nearby airports where the plane could land. Don't forget to consider the airport where the plane departed.
  6. Determine the distance and directional heading (degrees) from the plane's current location to each of the airports you have selected.
  7. Assuming you maintain your current air speed, what direction (in degrees) should you head the plane to reach each of the airports? Refer to the instructions below for help in drawing the vector diagrams.
    Vector Diagram Instructions
    • On a piece of paper, draw a dotted line across the page at the same directional heading (degrees) as the heading you determined for one of the airports in step 6 above.
    • Place a dot somewhere on the dotted line and label it Airport #1.
    • Draw the wind speed vector on your diagram so that the head is at Airport #1. Make sure to draw it to scale and to use the correct directional heading (degrees).
    • Use the same air speed that you determined in step 4 above. Draw this vector to scale so that its head is at the tail of the wind speed vector and its tail intersects somewhere on the dotted line. It will not be at the same directional heading you determined in step 4.
    • You should now see your air speed vector head to tail with the wind speed vector. The tail of the air speed vector indicates the plane's current position.
    • The ground speed vector is the vector from the plane's current postion to Airport #1.
    • Repeat this for Airport #2.
    Need a little help?
    Look here!
  8. What are the new ground speeds (km/h) to each of the airports? (refer to your new vector diagram)
  9. Using the new ground speeds and distances to each of the airports, determine how long it will take you to reach each of the airports.
  10. What other factors besides time might you need to consider when deciding which airport to fly to?
  11. Which airport should you fly to? Why?
  12. What will be your estimated time of arrival to your selected airport?
  13. You must write up a Pilot's Incident Report documenting what happened and why you made the decisions you did. You will present this report to the FAA (your classmates) and be ready to defend your decisions. Create visual aids to explain any physics concepts that you think may help members of the FAA better understand what happened.