55. Tutorial - Building a VFR Flight Plan

55.1. General

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

The flight plan is included in the Little Navmap installation directory: .../Little Navmap/etc/Tutorial VFR Meythet (LFLP) to Challes-les-Eaux (LFLE).pln.

The airport names might differ depending on simulator.

The flight will take us through the 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 of X-Plane or Prepar3D.

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

55.2. Prepare Flight

I’d recommend to get use Flight -> Reset all for a new Flight Reset all for a new Flight before each flight to get a clean base for fuel calculation and other functions. Uncheck Create a new and empty flight plan in the dialog if your plan is already loaded.

55.3. Default Aircraft Performance

This tutorial does not cover creating or collecting aircraft performance files. See Tutorial - Creating an Aircraft Performance Profile if you like to do this.

Therefore, we will simply use the default which gives a three degree climb and descent angle as well as 100 knots cruise speed.

Select Aircraft -> New Aircraft Performance New Aircraft Performance .... Accept the default values by pressing OK in the dialog. You will see several warnings in the fuel report. Ignore these for now since the aircraft performance is sufficient to calculate the top of descent and top of climb for the elevation profile.

55.4. 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 right.
  • The mouse (click and drag) to move and the mouse wheel to zoom.
  • The cursor keys to move and the keys + and - for zooming in and out (click into the map window or press F2 to activate it before using the keys).

Use the back Back and forward Forward buttons to jump in the position history like in 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 Departure Select Airport / Parking as Flight Plan Departure ( Set as Departure) in the context menu.

The airport layout and parking spot will be different depending on used simulator.

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.

55.5. En-Route Waypoints

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 in the toolbar 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 for inserting the new position.

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.

Waypoints using the default format WP plus number (e.g. WP1 or WP99) are automatically renumbered to reflect the flying order in the flight plan.

Right-click on the user waypoint and select Edit Flight Plan Position WP1 Edit Flight Plan Position ( Edit Flight Plan Position or Edit Flight Plan Position Remarks) to change a waypoint ident, name, remarks or its coordinates. Use nearby villages, mountains, lakes or other points of interest. Do not change the coordinates now.

Edit Waypoint Name

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

55.6. Destination Airport

To add the destination:

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

55.7. 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 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.

55.8. 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 ft 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.

Note that you might find different airspaces depending if you use the latest navdata or stock airspace data.

Airspaces

55.9. Saving

Save the plan in the Little Navmap format LNMPLN 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.

The format LNMPLN is only understood by Little Navmap. You cannot load these files into another program. Therefore, we have to export the flight plan.

Now open the multiexport options dialog by selecting File -> Multiexport Flight Plan Options.

Right click on the simulator format you’d like to export and select Export Flight Plan now Export Flight Plan now. Save the file to the right place. The default path is based on best guess.

See here Quick Setup for information how to quickly configure the multiexport.

55.10. 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.

  • Click on the tab which corresponds to your simulator. Image below shows the tab for FSX, P3D or MSFS on the left and the tab for X-Plane on the right.

    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.

55.11. Looking at Places while Flying

Little Navmap will keep your aircraft and the next flight plan waypoint centered on the screen as a default setting. You can configure this function in the options dialog on page Simulator Aircraft.

The program will stop following your aircraft for 10 seconds if you start any action that zooms in to an airport or navaid (double-click, toolbar button or link in the information window) or just simply move or zoom around in the map.

Double-click on the destination airport to zoom to the airport diagram, for example. Leave Little Navmap alone and the map will jump back to the aircraft and next flight plan waypoint after the timeout.