Why is the GPS turned off?

Flying and working on the Coast of Southern California we used to joke about how easy navigating was around here. Mountains to the right and water to the left, you’re going north. Water to the right and mountains to the left and you’re going south.
Yet some of our students still managed to get themselves lost on their solo cross country. The incident that took the most “un-doing” was when a student landed at the Vandenberg Air Force Base instead of Santa Maria. How she did that we will never know since one is right off the beach with a single space shuttle sized runway, while the other is further inland with intersecting, comparatively small, runways. She had to spend the night there of course and the plane was pretty much taken apart but after a bunch of bitter tears they let her go eventually.

So naturally the next step for us with this simple coastal navigation technique was to have Chuck take it to the next level and actually apply it while circling one of California’s bigger islands off the coast. Although for me personally, my favorite joke in this strip is Chuck conserving electricity by shutting the GPS off in flight to help out the planet…

OH! And have we mentioned this already? The new book is now available here!!!

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3 comments on “Why is the GPS turned off?
  1. Bernd says:

    I sometimes try not to rely on the GPS, and fly magnetic heading according to winds aloft, and maybe use a VOR if there is one at a useful position, but the shiny moving map is just so damn convenient.

    I have only one VOR receiver and indicator and no DME or NDB, so doing navigation solely by classical instruments is a bit inconvenient. I hope I’ll still know how to do it, come the day GPS fails.

  2. Jan Olieslagers says:

    Little jokes like Chuck’s with the electrity saving are much appreciated here. Well done indeed! As for relying on the GPS: I created my own, with a bit of C programming on Linux, but made the error of relying on the gpsd package for collecting gps data. I have learned the hard way to never rely on gps alone! Especially the day I suddenly and utterly unexpectedly found myself on final for an air base, I think it is one with nuclear arms stored…

  3. L says:

    Nice one, thank you.
    In the US, they call kids like Chuck “children of the magenta line”. It is a spoof on an old horror film. 🙂
    A student pilot asked me once how I navigate around the home patch (my GPS was turned off for a quick 1/2-hr hop). I pointed out the window: “Do you see that lake on the left? That’s the Pfl lake. See this road under our nose that I’ve been following for the past 5 minutes? That’s 973, it will take us all the way to Taylor”. And I added, jokingly (but half seriously: “If somebody can’t navigate by local landmarks, not only should they reconsider becoming a pilot, they must also hand in their man-card”. 😀

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