Navigation Logs

Even with the proliferation of EFBs (Electronic Flight Bags), the paper nav log is essential training for the student pilot. They teach the calculation of a flight path and the impacts of magnetic variation, wind and compass deviation to show where to point the airplane in order to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ (and ‘C’ and ‘D’ and etc.).

Many pilots will immediately jump in and say that it is unnecessary because their GPS will show them where to point the airplane (a.k.a. Children Of The Magenta), but there are still many General Aviation airplanes out there without a GPS installed and the GPS system is more susceptible to failure than people realize as it has been taken for granted and working reliably for so long.

A 1964 IFR Capable Piper Cherokee Still In Use Today For Flight Training – Without a GPS Installed.

More importantly, pilotage and dead reckoning are critical skills for every pilot, “See and Avoid” is key to aviation safety, and it is essential for the student pilot to understand how the EFB created the flight plan so that any errors should be obvious when they review it. EFBs also don’t typically incorporate compass deviation in their flight plan calculations.

Since flight service does not accept the old FAA equipment codes for aircraft even for local VFR flights (e.g. “slant golf” for GPS equipped airplanes), be sure to find and use the appropriate ICAO equipment and navigation codes appropriate for the aircraft you are flying.

A good VFR Navigation Log can be downloaded here.

A good IFR Navigation Log can be downloaded here.

Print out the nav log double-sided and ‘flip on short edge‘ so it can be folded and used more effectively using the guide here.

Many new pilots find filling out a navigation log to be confusing at first. If the ground school you are using isn’t covering the subject area well enough, there is a good series of videos from CFI Cyndy Hollman that walk through the process in several easy-to-understand stages. Try watching these before paying for a ground school session with your CFI.

CFI Cyndy Hollman Playlist for Calculating W&B and Filling Out Navigational Logs.