Is using the VFR map considered cheating?

Hi everyone

Is it cheaty to use the in-game VFR map while flying? I’m very new to aviation so I’m not an expert but don’t real pilots use handheld apps that do almost the same thing while flying?

Have a nice discussion :slight_smile:

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no it’s not, if it can help you to learn flying :wink:

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Yes they do but i love flying with C152 and with VOR stations without VFR map.


If you’re going for pure realism, yeah, it’s technically cheating because it isn’t a real tool pilots have in that exact form. You should look into ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot if you’re looking to use what real pilots use (have sectionals and a lot of detailed information about the area that the VFR map doesn’t provide; the VFR map was meant for simplicity for new flyers) though these apps are pretty expensive for a sim-only pilot. The VFR map does a decent job if you don’t have access to these tools (though if you’re in a glass cockpit airplane, just use the GPS on the glass cockpit and avoid the VFR map - or on the C172, use the small GPS on the right).

If you’re looking for a challenge that’s more fun and in tune with how you’d learn to fly in real life, try navigating using only a sectional chart (see: You can use the flight plan feature to enter a departure and arrival airport and then drag your route along to different VFR features you see on the sectional. Then try flying those headings while looking for the ground references you set. You can set a timer between each leg and approximate how long it will take you to get to each waypoint, which is how all student pilots learn to navigate initially.


In a broad sense there’s no such thing as cheating in aviation. It’s not a game, and there’s no one keeping score. Wise pilots, real and virtual, use every resource available to them.

For training purposes however, it can be very helpful to limit the resources available to help develop news skills. Maps, GPS, radio aids, forward visibility, can all be removed to practice different scenarios.


Real pilot can use their tablets with a gps receiver and open a map. So no, it’s not cheating.

But if you are a student pilot and want to learn instrument navigation (important skill) then I would say: “you cheating yourself while in training”

But if you just fly for fun or don’t want to train the navigation skill at the moment, then it’s fine.


In small aviation, I use handheld navigation every time. However, I believe we are still forbidden to rely on it as a primary navigation tool. We must prepare navigation flights, be aware of our location, and have a paper map on board. The reason is simple. Those devices fail themselves, and GPS can be lost. It’s just a matter of time. If you just follow the magenta line on your device and don’t pay attention to where you are, you may easily be lost if you are unfamiliar with the area.
However, GNSS/EGNOS is in development, so GPS can soon be part of the primary navigation system in many airports, including small ones.


It’s like the “difficulty” level you have in many games.

For Really Easy, switch all the AI help on, have labels everywhere, pause often to give you more time to sort things out, choose clear skies and no wind, etc.

For Really Hard, no AI help, no VFR map, choose a foggy, rainy, windy night, in a mountainous environment, and trigger an electronics fault.

Few people choose either extreme, but for the best feeling of satisfaction you should be moving up the scale. So learn to do without the VFR as soon as possible unless you need it for a particular reason.

In the end of course it’s whatever floats your boat, or in this case flies your plane.

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I come from the gliding world and IRL, there is something all VFR pilots have to be aware of: we are suppose to fly VFR. It is OK to quickly have a look on a mobile device to see where you are and where you are going but your eyes should look outside most of the time.
On a nice day with gentle cumulus cloud, everybody wants to be at cloud base, sailplane, paragliders, GA aircraft and light aviation friends with their quiet Rotax engine… If everybody is looking at his device rather than outside, you guess what could happen.
It is a good training to read the landscape with your eyes and have a mental image of your route, try to minimize the time reading the map on the device, just to double check that you are still on the right route.


Thanks for answering so far, I’ve learned a thing or two

Another question though, (there’s probably a way to find it myself but while I’m at it…)

How can I learn to properly fly truly VFR? For example, I can easily navigate around my country without using any GPS, but if I’m going elsewhere I really don’t know how to find myself

Thanks :slight_smile:

In the age of “here’s an iPad with GPS and Google Maps offline or specialized aviation maps”, does anyone actually fly VFR the old way? Other than for getting their license?


there are specialized maps for VFR in which you can find many points of interests like railways, electric poles, mountains, rivers, etc. that is basically it if you don’t know where you are going to be flying.

That said, I really love to learn about new towns I have never been to. I would search for example Santa Clarita (california), I would watch any cool video about it, and then I would fly to that location. It is a great way of learning about new places and feeling identified with the place.


Watch this

They are called Sectional Charts.

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Thanks :slight_smile:

be aware not all the POIs in the sectional chart are present in the game. Many electric poles and such. So pick POIs you are sure are going to be there, like mountains, rivers, lakes and so on. you will learn what is there and what is not.

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Most pilots have a backup iPad and GPS system in their plane these days. Just say you are simulating that…

  1. There will be actually a course for MSFS2020 available soon (I hope at least):
    VFR | FS Academy
    I have got IFR from them and it works great. Now VFR is in development.

  2. There is really a lot on youtube.
    For example, really great work done on explaining various aviation topics:
    Fall 2016 PACE Demo - YouTube

  3. For deeper understanding there are a lot of text books on the official FAA website
    Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (


I picked up 1 mil (ie 1:1000000 scale) VFR charts for most of Europe for 99p each (about $1.50) in the Black Friday sales from an online pilot store. They’re expired 2019 editions, so illegal for real navigation, but a great resource for simming. Equivalent to sectionals in the US.

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Thanks guys, really appreciate it :slight_smile:

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Considering the very limited info in the VFR map, I wouldn’t even call it much of an advantage at all. It’s basic to the point of being borderline useless. It has its uses, but it’s just not detailed enough for me to consider it much of a help at all, let alone a “cheat”. lol

In the end, you fly the way you want. Use whatever aids you wish to make it more enjoyable for you. Just like real pilots will have their tablets with ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot, even in planes without any fancy avionics. There’s no such thing as cheating. You can use whatever resources you want to help make your air time as enjoyable to you as possible.

If you haven’t already, I would recommend looking into Little NavMap. It’s free and great for both VFR and IFR navigation. And with the right plugin, you can open is as a map within MSFS like the VFR map, and it’s infinitely more useful.