For the six months that I have owned FS9 I have mainly been doing instrument flights into major airports with small jets. This has involved making a flightplan, using autopilot when at cruise level to follow the plan, then getting vectors from ATC. Naturally enough this has become somewhat boring as it involves little skill in handling the aircraft and requires almost no navigational skills. So I have decided to get a little more 'hands on' and have started doing vfr flights without flight plans. This is obviously a lot more fun, but in trying to understand navigational aids, I am getting a little confused. I have tried to read about VOR nav in the groundschool material and have attempted some of the flight lessons involving VOR, but to be honest I cant quite understand the point of it. If I have to choose a direction to fly in (I.e selecting a radial) why not just turn my plane in that direction? In other words, what is the point in using VOR if you already know what bearing you wish to fly? What if I dont know in what direction the VOR is? What if I was completely lost somewhere near London, I know the frequency of Stanstead VOR but am not entirely sure where it is from my current bearing, how the heck do I get there, surely that is the point of navigation?
I realise I may be completely missing the concept here but the whole idea of choosing a radial to fly kind of misses the point of navigation dosnt it?
It takes some time to get the hang of it, but when you do you will find VOR's helpfull. First fly away from Stanstead with the VOR set and read the DME distance to see that you are indeed flying away. Fly out say 20nm and then center the VOR needle and the arrow pointing up. this will give you the direction to turn to. Then as you fly back to Stanstead the DME reading should get smaller untill your back at home base. Practice - Practice.
If you are flying away the small arrow at the bottom will be pointing down.So Turn say 120 deg's then Center the VOR to fly back to Stanstead. Learning to use VORs will help your skill level in navagation
If you're navigating on your own and flying to a VOR, the point is not to fly to the VOR on some predetermined angle, the point is just to FLY TO THE VOR. So when you acquire the signal, spin the OBS to center the needle, then fly the plane to keep the needle centered. Eventually, you will cross the VOR. If all you need to do is to get to the VOR, any radial will get you there.
Flying on a specific radial is a lot more useful when you are required to fly AWAY from a certain VOR, in order to find your next way point. In that case, you need to stay on the desired radial, because that is the only one that gets you from the VOR to where ever you want to go.
The difference between using a VOR fly a certain bearing and simply flying a heading is that the VOR will get you to a certain point in space, and the second method won't. You can fly a heading of 338 degrees any place on the globe, but ONLY the the 338 degree radial on the SEA VOR will get you to SeaTac Airport, aligned with the runways 34L and 34R.
The "Aerial Chauffeur" set of flights (I think that's the name) in FS09 has a lot of good practice in VOR navigation. Personally, I would cancel the IFR and just fly the route using VOR. You can also, if you need a clue, refer to the GPS, because the flight plan is displayed there, too.
The point of VOR radials is to get you to a specific point as mentioned above. If you fly 360 degrees on your DG, then the wind will greatly affect you(particularly with a crosswind). The VOR gets rid of that. The N radial (360 From) radial of a VOR is the same line across the map no matter what. So in a strong crosswind from the west, and tracking the 360 radial outbound you may actually have a heading of 330 to maintain the 360 ground track. This is called a crab. As for the IFR vs. VFR thing. When doing the flight plan under IFR select either high(>18000 ft) or low(<18000) altitude airways. This is flying via VOR to VOR to your destination. You should not be given vectors this way until about 50-100 nm away depending on altitude. As for VFR the point to VFR is to fly via landmarks on the ground. Hope this helps.
The primary point of the VOR is that it permits the use of corridors. If you are tuned into a VOR you can find your bearing to it and fly to it or away from it if you wish, but there might be a mountain in the way.
By having radials on a VOR, you can create a chart telling pilots how to approach a VOR safely along a particular bearing which will avoid obstructions. It not only allows you to find where the VOR is, but it also allows you to find where the safe corridor is to that VOR so that you wont hit a mountain or another aircraft.
There's alot more to VOR than has, thus far, be explained in these posts...
Before GPS there was VOR. And it was a very effective tool in navigation.
VOR spokes allow a pilot to triangulate his exact position via VOR vectors. thats one of the reasons there are 2 nav radios. if you spin the dials until the spokes are both centered then you will know the bearing from 2 different VOR's and be able to pinpoint your position on the globe very precisely and quickly, in fact with a little practice you can just look at a chart and know where you are at a glance.
also by intelligently using the dials you can track a very accurate course over the ground by flying to checkpoints that you establish in your flightplan, in other words you know that you want to be at the convergence of 240degrees off of VOR "A", and 171degrees off of VOR "B". Take a chart and draw a line from each, where they cross is your check point.
You can also fly using this method from one VOR signal to another and cut the hard corners in a flight plan by flying from the radial of one VOR until you pick up on the next VOR's signal and drop the one you were on (one of the other good reasons for the second nav radio)
you dont need to fly directly to or from VOR's for them to be useful, in fact, flying from vor to vor is a very innefficent, time and fuel consuming way of using them. Instead use the spokes of the VOR's to guide you.
Theres a bunch more to their usefulness if they are /DME's as well, then you can really fly with pinpoint accuracy in any conditions. a good way to practice is to take off then drag your window view behind the dash panel (effectively painting your windscreen black) and fly using VOR only. I think that is an actual training module for military and professional pilots.
I always Always ALWAYS use my VOR/DME nav aids when i am up. I believe it improves the immersion quality of FS9. Its part of my fun factor.