Course Guidance

If you review the NTSB video below, you will see one of the worst disasters in aviation…. averted by a mere feet!  This was the Air Canada flight that nearly landed on the parallel taxiway at SFO which would have taken out at least 3 waiting aircraft in the process.  The response I have received from many pilots and non-pilots is “how could this happen” or “how could they have been so stupid.”  I’m afraid neither of these questions are simple.

I’ve done the same thing.  Many pilots have done something similar at some point.  I was on a visual approach into Dallas (DFW) during the day with clear skies and a bit of haze.  ATC changed our runway last minute from 18R which was what we expected to 13R and while the Captain was trying to get our FMS reprogrammed and change my localizer frequency, I disconnected the autopilot and lined up for the runway.  About 5 miles out, I was cross-checking my instruments with the runway and I saw the localizer needle ever so slightly to my right.  I knew something was amiss so I started straining to see the actual markings on the runway to make sure I was lined up correctly.  Low and behold, about the 3 mile final mark I saw that I was slightly off because I was lined up with the [longer] taxiway that paralleled the runway!  It didn’t take but a very slight correction to the right and I was correctly lined up with the runway AND my localizer.  This really drove home a concept that I think all pilots should embrace.  Add some course guidance. This includes both VFR AND IFR pilots.

The stakes can be just as high for you as a GA pilot lining up with the wrong runway or even worse, the wrong airport.  Try these two options the next time you go flying.  The first option will ensure you are precisely lined up with the runway while the second is a supplemental procedure just for getting yourself setup closely with the runway extended centerline (at the correct airport).

Use guidance from an approach |  If you are setting up to land on a runway that has an approach attached to it (ILS, LPV, etc..), set the localizer frequency.  For most pilots that use ForeFlight, this is pretty easy to get.  Worst case, ask the tower, they will give it to you.  Once you have the localizer frequency setup, just adjust your navigation head to the runway heading (MYF – 281, CRQ – 245, SEE – 269).  This will give you supplemental guidance as you are headed toward the runway.  If you have setup the correct frequency, when the needle moves right, so should you and vice versa.  For IFR pilots, this will be very familiar.  For VFR pilots, talk to an instructor if you have questions.  It’s a great way to ensure you are right on track the entire way in.  

Use guidance from your GPS | Using this method works well if you are establishing yourself on a long final and just want some additional guidance to extend your centerline.  If the airport has parallel runways, use caution with this procedure as it will technically put you between these runways.

On your GPS, select Direct To, then select the airport BUT before activating it, there is a course field.  The default of that field when you press Direct to is your present position direct to the airport (the Airport Reference Point to be precise).  Change that course to the runway heading.  For example, at Montgomery, I would select Direct to, after entering KMYF, I scroll to the Course field and change that to 281 and activate.  That will extend the centerline of the runway waaaay out.  

Alternatively, if you are already direct to the airport and as you get closer you want to extend the centerline, the procedure is equally simple.  Press your OBS button on the GPS, turn the OBS to your runway heading.  That’s it!  Now you have an extended centerline and you can line yourself up on a straight-in with more precision than your counterparts that don’t read my newsletter at the same time impressing your friends and family with your flying prowess.

There are a few “gotchas” that you may experience with these methods (reverse sensing, out of service localizer, etc..) so I recommend getting with your instructor for a quick overview of these concepts.  The goal here is simple.  Prevent yourself from flying to the wrong airport at an unfamiliar location, more accurately line up with a runway that you are planning to land on and most important, avoid embarrassment (or worse) by keeping yourself lined up with the pavement that was meant for landing!

You may also like...

Aviation General
System Administrator

Inoperative Instruments

Many pilots and flight instructors know about the temporary relief offered by FAR 91.213 in the event of inoperative equipment or instruments.

Read More »
Aviation General
Shane Terpstra


Tick tock.  In exactly 20 days, all aircraft that want to fly in controlled airspace

Read More »

Leave a Comment

Plus One Flyers - Membership Agreement

Section A:  Agreement

I hereby certify that all the information on this membership form is true to the best of my knowledge.  I understand that any falsification shall be grounds for disqualification or forfeiture of my membership.  I have received, read, understand, and agree to abide by the Plus One Flyers, Inc. (the “Club”) Bylaws and Operational Rules.  In particular, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to be bound by Section 4.8 of the Bylaws, which states that I shall be responsible for any damages or abuse to an aircraft that I am using.  I also acknowledge that I have read and agree to be bound by Section 4.8.3 of the Bylaws, which provides that I shall not seek to hold Plus One Flyers, Inc. legally responsible for my acts while operating a Club aircraft which results in damages or injuries, whether to myself or others. I further acknowledge that I have read and agree to be bound by Article VII of the Bylaws, which provides that I shall be fiscally responsible for my dues, timely flight payments and any collection fees.

In the event that any damages are assessed against the Club as a result of my acts or negligence, I shall be solely responsible for the payment of those damages and for any legal fees or costs incurred by the Club in defending itself.  As set forth by Article VII in the Plus One Flyers Inc. Bylaws, each member, and their heirs, successors, personal representative and assigns, release, acquit, and covenant not to sue, and  shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Club, its officers, directors, agents and employees for any liability, losses, or damages that I or the Club may suffer as a result of an act by, or negligence of, the member while operating a Club aircraft. Each member must acknowledge and agree that he or she is accepting and using any and all Club aircraft in a used, “as is” condition and that the Club does not and has not repaired, reconditioned, or maintained any Club aircraft.  Each member must agree to assume all risks, and assumes full responsibility for risk of bodily injury, death or property damage associated with any Club aircraft and not to seek to hold the Club legally responsible for any such defects in Club aircraft before being allowed to use and fly Club aircraft.

Finally, I understand, should I resign from the Club, my resignation notice (form) must be given in writing at least thirty (30) days prior to leaving the Club and that I will return my club key(s) on or before my resignation date, which is effective the 1st day of the next month following that 30 day period. Membership remains effective until terminated under the terms of this Agreement.

I also agree and understand that:

A.     I will not allow non-members, whether pilots or not, to operate Plus One Flyers Aircraft because they are not insured through Plus One Flyers.  All flight instructors instructing in Club Aircraft must be members of Plus One Flyers, Inc., and be authorized by the club’s Safety Program.

B.     I will not operate Club Aircraft if my FAA medical or Flight Review is not current.

C.     I will not operate Club Aircraft for hire, either under Part 91 or Part 135 of the FAR’s, because the Club’s insurance does not cover such operations.

D.     I, alone, am personally and financially responsible if I participate in any uninsured operations of Club Aircraft.

E.     I will maintain and promptly notify the Club of any changes to my telephone numbers, billing address, email, and credit/debit card(s) information by updating this information myself in Schedule Master.          Initial here_________

F.     I will promptly notify Plus One Flyers if I am involved in an aircraft accident, even if it is not a Plus One Flyers Aircraft.

G.     I authorize my bank or credit/debit card company/companies to make monthly or yearly (as specified in Section B) payments to Plus One Flyers, Inc. and post it to my account.                               

H.     I authorize my bank or credit/debit card company/companies to make payments for possible collections for errors or non-payments of flights to Plus One Flyers, Inc. and post it to my account.

I will promptly and regularly submit updated copies of my Medical Certificate and Flight Review to the Club’s Membership Officer.


Section B:  Automatic Payment and Credit/Debit Card(s) Guarantee

The credit/debit card(s) you provide on this form and/or in Schedule Master serve as your payment guarantee and is required in your Schedule Master Membership account to enable and maintain your airplane scheduling privileges. Plus One Flyers will charge your card(s) and email you an invoice for any payment shortages.  Any dispute regarding a charge can be handled by the Club Membership Officer.  If an error results in an amount owed you, Plus One Flyers will credit your Schedule Master account balance unless you request a refund check.

Membership Dues are $29.00 monthly, charged to your credit/debit card(s) or if available, against a pre-paid credit balance.  Paying Annual Dues means you maintain a pre-paid credit balance that is reduced by $31.00 monthly until zero and if you elect to continue to pay Annual dues, you are responsible for pre-paying the appropriate amount each year.  There is a $129.50 initiation fee for new members and renewing members, except for those members renewing while serving active duty in U.S. Armed Services.  If there is a change in dues you will receive a thirty day notice by email and a message will be posted in Schedule Master. Your account will be charged on the 1st of every month if you choose the monthly option.  An email invoice will be sent to you every month.  It is your responsibility to view your invoices/account to verify that your payment has been made.  You are responsible for ensuring your card(s) remains current and that if it expires or your billing address changes you alone are responsible for updating that information in Schedule Master.  If your bill has not been paid your scheduling privileges will be automatically suspended until it is paid.  If three consecutive dues invoices remain unpaid your membership will automatically terminate and a $99.00 initiation fee plus the past due balance will be required to reinstate your membership.  If you take no action your account may be sent to a collection agency.

Keep your billing address and email address and card(s) current in your Schedule Master Membership Account. Plus One Flyers is not responsible for ensuring your email system allows Schedule Master or other Club emails to reach you.  You will receive an automatic email one month prior to the expiration of your card in Schedule Master.  Plus One Flyers is a PCI-DSS-compliant e-commerce and POS credit card processing merchant.  See the Club’s Privacy Policy for more about how we protect your private information.                                                                                              

Scroll to Top