Pilots training to become instrument rated must learn to intercept and track VOR and LOC courses. What are the basic rules of thumb all pilots should learn regarding picking a course for intercept and making corrections to maintain the course? How do they vary between VOR and LOC courses?

  • $\begingroup$ Voting to close as too board. Describing how to intercept a VOR course can easily take a whole chapter in an aviation textbook. What do you want to know? Scanning instruments? Crosswind correction? Back course tracking? Entry procedures? $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Mar 9, 2016 at 15:12
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I didn't ask for a textbook description. I asked for a rule of thumb. A rule of thumb might be something like "two bars of deflection is 4 degrees so divide in half and turn 2 degrees away from the deviation." I don't think asking for this is too broad. $\endgroup$
    – ryan1618
    Mar 9, 2016 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ I understand what you want to ask. My point is simply being, tracking VOR courses has so many subtopics; they are all "basic" rules and all pilots must learn them. The super simple rule is, if the needle goes right, turn right; if it goes left, turn left. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Mar 9, 2016 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ Does that help? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Mar 9, 2016 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @mins Actually, yes this is super helpful. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – ryan1618
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


the rule of thumb for IFR flying, including intercepting VOR and LOC courses, is the 5Ts:

  • Throttle: turn the throttle to initiate a climb or descent
  • Turn: to the new inbound or outbound heading
  • Time: reset the timer to time the new leg
  • Twist: the OBS to the new course you're intercepting
  • Talk: if you are at a reporting point, you should now use the radio
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I usually go with "Turn Time Twist Throttle Talk". Chanted it on every flight during my Instrument Rating. :D $\endgroup$
    – RaajTram
    Apr 10, 2016 at 0:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The 5 Ts in my answer follow the aviate, navigate, communicate dictum $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Apr 11, 2016 at 16:35
  1. To track to a station track a radial with a To indication
  2. To track from a station track a radial with a from indication
  3. To track outbound turn your vor obs to a radial with a from indication and intercept where the needle is (left or right) within 90* (otherwise you will start tracking towards the station)
  4. To track inbound turn your vor obs to the reciprocal heading and intercept within the 90deg* of the direction the needle is. ( the reciprocal in crucial)

Basic vor intercepts will call for 90 * intercept to avoid crossing the station however this is amateur but ensures the task cannot be failed

They will call for 45* intercept outbound since you have no worry of cross the station.

Proficient pilots will intercept as required when tracking vor becomes second nature.

The radial your a/c is on can be found always by centering the needle with a from indication. This will give the radial from the station that your aircraft is on.

Remember aircraft heading is not relevant , just the position of the aircraft I relation to the vor

Vor reception 1.23 x sqrt ALT Vor is line of sight so the greater the ALT, the greater the reception distance.

I may have worded the first 4 rules wrong but they are fundamental!


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .