LOW-LEVEL AND TACTICAL FORMATION
flying over in great detail, but will leave orientation matters up to you as much as possible. Your
instructor will teach you to recognize the checkpoints along your route or ground references in
the training area. You should be able to get to any of the nearby airports and know the main
roads, cities, hills, rivers, etc., of your local training areas.
Positive Identification. Before you use a checkpoint, make sure it is the right one. Before
the mission, learn what you can expect to see by studying the chart and it's legend. While
flying, use DR to determine when you will reach the next checkpoint. Look for features that will
help you locate the point as far out as possible. Remember, if you are looking for a point on
course, you will not be able to see it once it goes under the nose of the aircraft. Do not forget
clock to chart to ground. If the timing is not right, it may not be the correct point.
Hold the chart so your course points toward the nose of the aircraft. If the checkpoint is to the
right of course on your chart, it should be to the right of the aircraft. Always fly "up" the chart.
Get the approximate position of the aircraft by DR. Select an identifiable landmark on the chart
at or near the DR position.
When you are uncertain of your position, check every possible detail before identifying a
checkpoint. The relative position of roads, railroads, airfields, and bridges make good
checkpoints. Intersections and bends in feature, such as a major city, select a small prominent
checkpoint within the large landmark to fix the position of the aircraft (like an outdoor theater,
oval running track, etc). Look for funneling features to help take you to your turnpoint or
checkpoint. A funneling feature is any item that leads you to the turnpoint. An example is
shown in Figure 1-6. Note how the railroad, road, and river help lead you toward the turnpoint.
When a landmark is not available as a reference at a scheduled turnpoint, make the
turn at the estimated time of arrival (ETA)! Extend the DR position to the next landmark,
and fix the position of the aircraft to make sure course and GS are being maintained.
Be sure to adjust your timing if you know you are ahead or behind timing due to airspeed
deviations or wind effects. It is easy to talk yourself into erroneously matching points on the
ground with similar points on the chart. Most point recognition involves shape or pattern
matching. Look for distinctive bends in rivers or shapes created by their intersections. When
looking for streams or rivers, only the largest will have water visible. In many cases there will
be foliage hanging over the stream and you will have to find the stream or river by changes in
coloration, density, or size of the foliage growing along the water.
Contour Map Reading. Contouring is the most common method of showing relief
features on a chart. Contours are lines that, at certain intervals, connect points of equal
elevation. To understand contours better, think of the zero contour line as sea level. If the sea
were to rise 10 feet, the new shoreline would be the 10-foot contour line. If the water continues
to rise, the 20-, 30-, and 40-foot contour lines could be seen.
Contour lines are closer together where the slope is steep and farther apart where the slope is
gentle. Within the limits of the contour intervals, the height of points and angle of slope can be
determined from the chart.
1-20 LOW-LEVEL NAVIGATION