Cross-country flights: Navigation and airport operations

As you explore the world outside your home field, you’ll be exposed to new landscapes and unfamiliar airports. Prepare for your cross-country flights with a brush-up on navigation and operations at both nontowered and towered airports.

Pilotage, dead reckoning, navigation systems, and radar services

How will you get from point A to point B? You can navigate by reference to visible landmarks using pilotage, compute directions and distance using dead reckoning, or use radio navigation systems such as VORs or GPS. Find out more about these methods and the resources available to you en route.

Deducing your way from point A to point B
The ABCs of VORs: Make the most of this navigation tool
Follow the magenta line: A primer on all things GPS
Flight Following and Airspace

Diversion and lost procedures

What should you do if things don’t go as planned? Prepare for the possibility that you may not make it to your intended destination, and brush up on what to do if you find yourself lost.

Technique: Diverting
Lost procedures

Traffic patterns

Do you know how you’ll enter the traffic pattern at your destination airport? Brush up on entries and operations at both towered and nontowered airports.

Entering the traffic pattern
Runway Safety online course (login required)
Towered Airport Operations safety quiz (login required)
Nontowered Airport Ops safety quiz (login required)
Avoiding midair collisions

Communications and light gun signals

Are you equipped to communicate clearly with other pilots and air traffic control during your flight? Find out how to get your message across and what assistance ATC can offer you.

Say It Right online course
Student Pilots: Should you let ATC know? video
Say Intentions: When you need ATC’s help Safety Advisor


Find out more about cross-countries in these frequently asked questions.