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5 Ways To Determine Your Location If You're Lost

In the age of GPS, it's hard to imagine getting lost. But it still happens, for a variety of reasons. Here's what you should do if you feel like you're "not quite sure where you are."

1) Pilotage

Look outside! Climb to a higher altitude and try to locate some recognizable landmarks along your route. If that doesn't work, try to locate a water tower in a nearby city and read the side of it.

Corey Comarek

2) Zoom Out

If your aircraft is equipped with a moving map display, simply zoom out to get a bigger picture, and orient yourself relative to surrounding airports or towns.


3) GPS Direct

Type in the airport identifier of the airport you plan to go to, and it will tell you the course and distance to the airport. Make sure you use the information to confirm your location on a sectional chart.

Flightlog / Flickr

4) VOR Cross Radials

Tune a nearby VOR and center the needle with a from flag. Draw a line on this radial from the VOR on your sectional. Then, repeat the process with another nearby VOR. Where these two lines intersect is where your aircraft is located.

Dirk Vorderstra??e

5) Ask ATC

If none of the obvious solutions worked, call a local ATC facility. Whether it's tower, approach, center, or flight service, ATC will usually have radar coverage in your area if you climb high enough. If you're having trouble finding a frequency to call, use 122.2. It's the universal flight service frequency.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineering Savannah District

What other tips do you have if you're lost? Tell us in the comments below.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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