Ground 9 - Cross-Country Flight Planning


The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the pilot-in-training to the elements associated with the procurement and analysis of aviation weather reports and forecasts, national airspace system, VFR cross-country planning, certificates and documents applicable to private pilots, and airworthiness requirements.


You and two friends, John and Sarah, will be traveling from your local airport today to several destinations around the northern part of the state. You will be renting a Piper PA-28-161 from the local FBO on the field. 

You plan to depart home around 11:00 a.m. and fly to an airport about 80 miles away to have lunch with John’s parents. After lunch, which will take approximately 3 hours, you and Sarah will continue on your trip to third location about 80 miles south for some late afternoon and evening shopping.  After having dinner with Sarah and her sister, you will then return home by yourself at night.

Leg Information:

  • Leg 1 - Cameron Park (O61) to Chico (KCIC):  Depart Home at 11:00 am local time.
  • Leg 2 – Chico (KCIC) to Nut Tree (KVCB) : Depart Chico at 15:00 local time.
  • Leg 3 – Nut Tree (KVCB) to Cameron Park (O61): Depart Nut Tree at 21:20 local time.

Weight and Balance Information:

  • John weighs 170 lbs and has 35 lbs of baggage
  • Sarah weighs 120 lbs and has 40 lbs of baggage
  • Your bag weighs 25 lbs 

Aircraft Information: assume the following information has been extracted from the appropriate log

  • Today’s date is 7/27/2020
  • Piper PA-28-161 built in 1996
  • Last 100 was 1555.3, current tach time is 1659.6
  • Last Annual Inspection was 9/02/2019 
  • Last transponder Inspection was 12/05/2018
  • Last Altimeter and Static System Inspection was 10/03/2018
  • Last VOR Check was 4/07/2020
  • ELT was temporarily removed on 7/17/2020 due to an “unreliable signal” 
  • Placard in cockpit reads “NO ELT”
  • Aircraft does not have a MEL

Pilot Information:

  • Received Private Single Engine Seaplane Rating on 4/04/2019
  • Third Class medical issued 6/14/2019

Recent flight experience (log book entries) is as follows:  

DateRouteLandingsAC TypeAC IDTotalDescription
12/2/2019O61-AUN-O611PA28N7322F1.2Breakfast with Bill
2/9/2020O61-KSQL1SR20N567AC1.0Business tip to Silicon Valley
1.0Return Home
2/27/2020O61-O611C152N4755P1.5Fun Flight with wife
1.4Fun Flight with Joe
3C172N737851.2Cessna 172 checkout
4PA28RN202WD1.4Arrow Checkout
1.2Business trip to Fresno
1.4Return home - moderate turbulence

  • Study these chapters in the Jeppesen Private Pilot Textbook and answer the end-of-section reviews.
    • Chapter 11 - Flying Cross-Country
      • Section A: The Flight Planning Process
  • Prepare for the knowledge test by studying these sections in the ASA Private Pilot Test Prep book.
    • Chapter 9 - Enroute Flight
Learning Objectives
VFR Cross-Country planning
Desired Outcome Task/Knowledge
Practice Route selection
Practice Altitude selection
Practice Implications of aircraft loading
Practice Interpreting a standard weather briefing for the planned flight
Practice Identifying airspace, VFR cloud clearance and visibility requirements, and equipment and operating requirements for airspace that will be encountered along the planned flight.
Practice Creation of a navigation log
Practice Go/no-go decision making
Practice Plan for alternatives if the flight cannot be completed or delays are encountered.
Certificates and Documents
Desired Outcome Task/Knowledge
Explain Private pilot certificate privileges and limitations
Explain Medical certificate class and duration
Explain Pilot logbook and flight records
Explain Aircraft certificates and documents
Airworthiness Requirements
Desired Outcome Task/Knowledge
Explain Required instruments and equipment
Explain Determining airworthiness with and without a minimum Equipment List
Explain Special flight permit
Explain Maintenance requirements and records
Completion Standards
The lesson is complete when the pilot-in-training can:
  • meet the desired outcomes listed in the learning objectives table.
  • interpret aviation weather reports and forecasts.
  • identify and explain the requirements to operate within the different airspace structures.
  • explain how the elements of certificate and documents pertain to VFR flight.
  • explain how the elements of airworthiness requirements pertain to VFR flight.
  • plan a VFR cross-country flight with instructor guidance.