I'm currently working on a couple of Nav-logs. I have a leg where I have to climb from sea level to 9500'. This takes up about 26NM of horizontal distance. Is it bad practice or even wrong to pick a set heading point that far away?

I am able to visually navigate to this set heading point by following a highway and a creek which leads directly to it.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you clarify? Are you saying you'll be climbing, but in a straight line for 26NM? If there isn't any terrain considerations, there isn't anything wrong with that. Maybe I'm not understanding the phrase "set heading point." $\endgroup$
    – Canuk
    Jul 9, 2022 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Canuk There won't be any terrain obstructions. The set heading points on my Nav-logs are basically checkpoints points on my route where i would turn to a different heading. And yes in a straight line after departure for 26NM $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2022 at 1:23

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the exercise you are doing is to navigate to an initial top of climb waypoint by pilotage (also known as IFR = I Follow Roads), then starting a dead reckoning leg from the top of climb waypoint where a heading is selected based on wind drift calculations.

The distance to the initial waypoint is not important and it's logical to locate it at the top of climb, and being a long climb it's some distance away from your departure airport.

So whatever floats your boat is fine as long as you know where you are and where you're going, there isn't really a protocol to follow other than the logic of setting a waypoint at the top of the climb, and you can navigate by pilotage the entire trip if you feel like it (what I normally do - well, actually I just use my phone most of the time to get around these days).

  • $\begingroup$ If I was doing a PPL flight test and during the ground portion the DPE sees that I have selected the top of climb as my set heading point It would be acceptable as long as I can justify it by telling him that i can get to it by pilotage? $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2022 at 4:41
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    $\begingroup$ I would say so, but I can't read the mind of the DPE and perhaps the DPE wants you to dead reckon right from the airport for the purpose of skills evaluation. What does your instructor say about all this? $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jul 9, 2022 at 4:59
  • $\begingroup$ I'll ask him about this later today, but when I was first taught dead reckoning, paraphrasing his words: "You visually navigate to your first set heading point, go in straight lines as much as possible, and then you visually navigate to your destination passing your last set heading point". $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2022 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ I've asked my instructor. It is acceptable for the flight test. As long as I am able to justify the use of the top of climb as the set heading point and I can reliably visually navigate to that point, its ok. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2022 at 7:42

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