Basic VOR tutorial for Aerofly FS 2

  • Some 5 years ago I discovered how much fun it is to fly and navigate with VOR only and to not use the GPS with a flightplan all the time. Flying with VOR only keeps you busy and on your toes and it is very satisfying to find your destination without the use of GPS, specially if that destination doesn't have a VOR station on it! Funnily enough I wasn't flying FSX at that time but MS Flight, which some considered not to be a real sim. It was with MS Flight however that I finally got to grips with how VOR works and I decided to write a tutorial for it, also to show that MS Flight could actually be used as a sim.

    Yesterday someone posted a topic about VOR approaches and it occured to me that I didn't actually fly using VOR only in Aerofly FS 2 yet, while it is so much fun! So I did it and then I decided to write a very basic tutorial about it.

    But before I start I will post the link to that MS Flight tutorial: it is far more complete than this one and explains almost everything you need to know in order to fly with VOR. Since it can be used perfectly well with Aerofly FS 2 (the main instruments I use in the RV-6A over there are about the same as in the Aerofly Cessna) I decided to not recreate that entire tutorial for Aerofly but to only show an example on this forum of how the information in the link can be used in Aerofly. So for starters, if you know nothing about VOR yet be sure to first read the opening post of this topic:…59-complete-vor-tutorial/

    Now let's start the basic flight using VORs only in Aerofly FS 2. This will be a short hop from Reedly Muni, 032, rwy 33, to Madera Municipal, KMAE, rwy 30 (or any other runway you like over there). See the attached screenshot for where those airports are. Make sure to NOT actually plan this flight in Aerofly! Just position your plane, in this tutorial the Cessna, on Reedly Muni's runway 33 and make sure to delete the plan on the navigation page (otherwise the plane may start flying that plan using GPS instead of using the AP and VORs).

    First we need to find out which VORs and radials we can use to get to KMAE. For this I usually use the following link (for the USA):

    Search for KMAE and on the next page ( scroll down to 'Nearby radio navigation aids'. You will see a short list of nearby VORs and this will show you on which VOR radial KMAE lies and at what distance. For this tutorial we will be using CZQ as the main VOR and FRA as the secondary 'backup' one (not really needed for this trip but I added it for some extra fun and to show you how triangulation works).

    CZQ, 112.90 MHz, radial 278, distance 15.5

    FRA, 115.60 MHZ, radial 237, distance 25,8

    To keep it a bit basic we will by flying directly towards (inbound) the CZQ VOR and when we get there we will fly away from it (outbound) on the radial that brings us to KMAE. So let's set up the instruments first.

    In the attached screenshot I have set the correct frequencies in both NAV radio's. I have turned the VOR 1 gauge OBS knob until the radial is in the exact middle and the arrow beneath the 'cross' points up (the TO position: when the arrow points down it is the FROM position). This will bring us straight to the VOR. The radial we will be flying on towards the VOR turns out to be 292 (see the top of the VOR gauge) so let's also set our HDG bug to 292.

    I have turned VOR 2 to the desired radial of 237: we can do this now already because we will only be using this one as a backup to get to KMAE.

    Next switch the DME device to show FREQ (instead of the default RMT) and set it to the VOR 1 frequency, 112.90: notice the distance to the VOR turns out to be 21.9.

    Now take off and fly towards the heading of 292 ASAP. Since you set the correct radial using the HDG bug (which btw I didn't do yet on the attached screenshot...) you could activate the autopilot and use the HDG option. Make sure that the needle on VOR 1 stays (or becomes) centered. Adjust the heading slightly if needed. Do not chase the needle all the time though: so if the needle goes a bit right do not change the heading immediately. Try to follow it slowly and in little steps. If the needle goes right, set HDG just one or two ticks right and the other way around. In the end the needle should be centered though so you are flying on the inbound 292 radial using the HDG on the AP.

    Try to keep the needle near the centre, by adjusting HDG if needed, up until you are around 4 nm out. At that time turn the OBS of the VOR 1 to the desired radial of 278: this is the outbound radial that leads us to KMAE. Since you are flying using the HDG option this won't change your direction right away. (In fact, this is why I adviced you to fly using HDG and not NAV: if you had been flying on NAV changing the radial would also change the direction you are flying right away).

    Keep on flying in the same direction using HDG and watch the little UP arrow on the VOR gauge: as soon as it flips from UP to DOWN you know you have passed the VOR and you can start to fly on the outbound radial. Turn the HDG to 278 ASAP. You will turn left. Watch where the needle on the VOR 1 is and try to slowly steer towards it, or in other words: get the needle moving to the centre. If the needle is to the right, turn the HDG a bit to the right and the other way around.

    When it gets closer to the middle you can enable the NAV option on the AP. Depending on how near you are to the radial it will be armed or turned on immediately. As long as it is armed you can change the HDG to center the needle more and more and at a certain moment NAV will take over. The plane will turn to get the needle centered on the VOR 1 gauge and after a while you will be flying directly to KMAE on the outbound 278 radial using NAV on the AP.

    From here on all you have to do is keep an eye on the DME: when the distance from the VOR is around 15.5 you should be right above the airport!

    Now we also tuned our VOR 2 radio and set the VOR 2 gauge to 237. When we get close to KMAE the needle on this gauge should start to centre automatically. When you are above KMAE both needles should be centered! At that exact moment you would be on the 278 radial of the CZQ VOR and the 237 radial of the FRA VOR. (If you would set the DME to the FRA frecuency of 115.60 the DME would show a distance of around 25.8!) You can use this as a backup, to make sure you are in the right position, and you can also use this for triangulation (see the linked tutorial).

    Obviously you should be able to see the airport before you are straight above it so you may as well descend before you get there and align yourself with the desired runway (without the AP). You could also simply fly straight over the airport, to make sure it is actually there, and then disable the AP to fly towards the correct runway.

  • Learning to use the VOR is a core part of any airman's education. Back before GPS was part of FSX everybody had to learn how to use it if they wanted to do more than just circle Meigs Field or fly around the Empire State Building. Thanks for posting this.

    And Flight had great potential. I really enjoyed it. Snobs killed it off like they are trying to kill off FS2. That and Microsoft making too many things DLC.

  • Thanks for posting this.

    You're welcome. Quite an achievement you found this topic amongst all those Japanese/Korean/Chinese spammers...!!! =O8);) I was afraid no one might read it ever! 8o

  • Good stuff. A wheel with 360 spokes - center the CDI with a FROM flag and that spoke (radial) is where you are in relation to that VOR. If you want to get there, your heading says turn right or left. While turning, recenter the CDI with a TO flag - roll out on that and work at keeping the needle in the center. Doesn't hurt to look out and see if the terrain matches the map.

  • Do they let you use GPS during your flight test these days?

    There is nothing on any of the flight checkrides that would prohibit the use of VOR, although I doubt anyone would need to use it during the "Approaches" section. Maybe as some sort of cross check to maintain your bearings.

    When I got my instrument ticket, way before GPS days, a dual VOR with remote heads was the "cats meow". Procedure turns was what it was all about. You had to constantly be set up for a missed approach and return to a nearby VOR.

    Holding patterns would have been impossible without a good knowledge of the TO/FROM and inbound/outbound radial understanding of the Omnirange.



  • A great VOR refresher for me, thanks Jeroen and all for an interesting post. I have to agree, VOR Nav is fun and a great challenge.

    Anton von SierakowskI - Aerofly FS2 Win PC (since 2017-08) W10 64bit

    ASUS Gryphon Z87 TUF Micro-ATX; i7 4770K 3.4GHz (@3.9GHz) 16Gb RAM GTX770 2Gb, 250Gb SSD-sys, 500GB SSD-FS2, 4TB HHD

    (FS2 iOS on iPad mini retina)

  • On mine, I flew a Low Frequency Range approach:).

    I guess it depends on what the check ride is for. For my last one, I had to fly all approaches, most with one engine out. I used everything available in the cockpit. I was flying a Citation CJ2 for single pilot quals.



  • Thanks for this guide. I tried navigating by VOR for the first time in the C172. I navigated to a VOR station and then turned to the radial of the airport and proceeded for another twenty miles. For a moment I thought I did something wrong as I should have been able to see it five miles out, but when I dropped out of a cloud, there was the runway just as expected. Success. This is definitely far more interesting than flight by GPS

  • For a moment I thought I did something wrong as I should have been able to see it five miles out, but when I dropped out of a cloud, there was the runway just as expected. Success. This is definitely far more interesting than flight by GPS

    Indeed! When you navigate with only VOR it's so much more satisfying and fun to finally see your destination pop up than it is when you simply use GPS. Specially when you make things a bit more complicated, like not flying to a VOR first but trying to intercept a radial closer to the destination. Or trying to fly to your destination in a straight as possible line using two VORs. Or having to use VORs that are on the opposite side of the airport. I usually try to fly to airports that don't have a VOR of itself because that almost be as boring as using GPS. Anyway, the fun thing is that all during the flight you have to monitors things (is the needle moving? on which radial am I right now? what is the distance? when do I have to switch to another VOR or radial? where the heck am I?) and you are constantly thinking 'Did I figure this out properly or did I make a mistake' which makes the entire flight and reaching your destination a real joy.

  • Hi all,

    so the real life VORs listed on the website Airnav are all available in the sim?

    I thought only those shown on the the navigation page.



    PC: FX8350, GTX 1060 6GB, 16 GB RAM, OS SSD, HD 4,5 TB, Win10-64

    SIMs: Aerofly FS2, FS9, FSX, FSXSE, P3Dv3, Xplane11