Planning a cross-country trip in 12 easy steps

This page provides a high-level view of the steps to planning a cross-country trip. This is not intended to replace flight training, but rather to serve as a memory jogger for students of the Rockclifffe Flying Club (and others).

This is the short version. A more complete version of this procedure can be downloaded in pdf format. It is recommended that you download this more complete version and use it to plan a few trips before using the following short version.

1- Select destination airport.

Review airport information in CFS for runway length, width, alignment, surface condition, field elevation, circuit height and direction, communications frequencies, type of control responsibility (CZ, MF, ATF), facilities and services available and any special procedures.

2- Route selection.

Airspace considerations and special use airspace, terrain, obstacles, water, navigation aids, airways, type of departure, clear landmarks, availability of alternate airports and WEATHER and FUEL CONSIDERATIONS.

3- Select Charts and Plot the Course.

  • Departure method
  • Draw Track Line and mark halfway points and 10 NM marks back from the destination
  • Draw 10 deg drift lines
  • Note obstructions within 5 NM of the track line
  • Note alternate airports

4- Enter preliminary Information on Flight Plan Log

  • From/To
  • MOCA
  • True Track
  • Magnetic Variation
  • Distance
  • Communication Frequencies
  • Navigation Aids
  • Checkpoints

5- Obtain Weather and NOTAMS.

  • Obtain relevant METAR, TAF, FA and FD reports from FSS or web
  • Obtain any NOTAMs, PIREPs, and SIGMETs
  • Check dates and validity periods for each
  • Check crosswind components for active runways. Enter info in aircraft performance worksheet.
  • Extract the following info from the Weather Reports:       
    • Cloud Bases, Tops, Visibility (is it and will it be VFR? within your limits?)
    • Surface winds
    • Winds at altitude
    • Surface Temperature
    • Temperature at altitude
    • Altimeter setting.

6- Select altitude

Ceiling, visibility, winds, cruising altitude order, length of trip, ease of navigation, MOCA, airspace, radio reception, gliding range, turbulence, terrain, etc.

7- Complete the Flight Plan calculations and enter on flight plan log

  • Altitude
  • TAS/CAS/IAS
  • Winds
  • True / Magnetic / Compass heading
  • Ground speed
  • Estimated time en route
  • Fuel burn rate and computations

8- Determine aircraft serviceability

Documents and visual walk-around

9- Complete Final Weight and Balance

Weight and balance worksheet C150 or C172 Weight and Balance Calculator

10- I'M SAFE?

11- File Flight Plan