Training Flights - VFR Navigation - First Solo Navigation - Struggling to get an "A"

Hi chaps,

I’m a new recruit to MSFS 2020 with about 75 hours flying time, running the SIM on a Windows 10 Gaming PC. All MSFS updates have been applied and I’ve got no add ons. Flight controller is a Logitech G HOTAS X52.

I’m trying to work my way through all the Training Flights (the ones since the (big) upgrade that gives A, B and C grades and an overall percentage) but I’m really struggling on the 5th and final one of the VFR Navigation set - the solo navigation flight. It’s basically using all the elements learnt in the previous 4 (VFR) lessons - Departure, Dead Reckoning, Landmark Navigation and Arrival (flying the pattern) and putting them all together in one flight from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (KFLG) overflying Munds Park Golf Club and landing at Sedona Airport (KSEZ).

The flight takes place in a Textron Aviation Cessna 152 and sets off from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport at an altitude of 7000 ft.

The report card splits the score down into 6 areas:

  1. Take off on runway 3. Climb to 8500 ft while maintaining 75 kts.

  2. Prepare for navigation. Fly over runway centre and keep your altitude at 8500 ft.

3.Navigate to Munds Park Golf Course. Reach Munds Park Golf Course within estimated time while maintaining 8500 ft.

  1. Navigate to Sedona. Reach Sedona Airport within estimated time and while maintaining 8500 ft.

  2. Enter traffic pattern. Fly over the runway centre at 6500 ft and descend to 6000 ft to integrate the traffic pattern.

  3. Land on runway 21. Follow the standard altitudes, headings and speeds of the traffic pattern. Maintain glideslope and alignment. Keep speed at 65 kts. Flare, land and brake close to the runway centreline.

To obtain an “A” requires 8000 points and I’m averaging about 7-800 points short of that. I’m mainly losing marks on numbers 1 and 3 but especially so, on number 1 (“Take off and climb to 8500 ft while maintaining 75 kts”). It’s taking a long time to get to 8500 ft and initially I was getting a message that I was outside of the range allowed and had to restart. Now I tend to start off with a higher than usual take off speed (about 80 kts) head straight out, climb to 8000 and then do a “u turn” and climb to 8500 on the way back to the runway. Getting it to hold 75 kts and maintain a reasonable rate of climb even on full throttle is really difficult though and it often drops way, way below that and I have to put the nose down to reduce my rate of climb and let the speed build up again.

I’ve turned the carb heater off and weakened the mixture to about 40 - 50%. Basically, I’ve put the parking brake on and just revved the thing on full throttle on the ground and then turned off the carb heater (that usually gives me another 150 – 200 rpm) and played around with the mixture setting till I get the highest rpm (maybe another 50 rpm or so). By doing so I can get right up to and maintain the maximum (2,500) rpm.

I really don’t know why I’m getting marked down so much on No. 3 (Navigate to Munds Park Golf Course. Reach Munds Park Golf Course within estimated time while maintaining 8500 ft) other than it takes me two minutes or so longer than the estimated time. It’s a straightforward flight on dead reckoning and I thought I was pretty much within the set parameters for altitude, speed and heading.

Has anybody got any tips they can let me have, especially on No.1 and 3 please, that might help get me over the line.

Many thanks in advance.


Climb at runway heading at 75 kts at about 350-400 ft/min (because of the altitute it wil not go much faster so yes, it takes some time) a few miles out, make a left 90 degree turn. Start the turn as you covered half the altitude. Keep climbing and check that you stay within the vicinity of the airport, make your next turn to the center of the airport while climbing. If you judge it richt, you should reach the airport at 8500 ft. Level off, accelerate to about 85-90 knots (it won’t go any faster because af the altitude) and reduce throttle to 2300 rpm. Fly over the center of the runway indicated by the marker, start the timer and head in the direction of the navlog with the highway on your right. Don’t follow the highway all the way, you can take a shortcut to the golfcourse as soon as you see it. Fly over de marker and head for Sedona.

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Thanks for that. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.

Once over the runway centre I just set a heading of 164 degrees and head for Munds Park Golf Course (rather than following the highway). Then when I get there, I set a heading of 222 degrees and go for Sedona.

I get poor marks on the flight to Munds but very good ones on the one to Sedona.

Well, it’s VFR so you must use landmarks such as highways, railroads, rivers, landscapes etc. The heading is a guidance, so is the clock. As the clock advances, you know when to check your surroundings for your visual clue. Like the instructor says: there is room for improvement!

Thanks again.

I wondered about that too (whether I needed to follow the highway). But, I’ve just checked the pre-flight instructions for the training mission and it says “Choose whatever method of navigation you’re confident with to reach Munds Park Golf Club: dead reckoning, landmark navigation or both.” I’m sure you’re right about my having room for improvement though!

I’ll try staying closer to the airport as you suggest, rather than climbing to 8000 and then turning around 180 degrees and heading back to the airport.

Thanks again.

I have found the best way is to push the engine deice know all the way in set the red knob(mixture) to about 55 then he engine will have full power. Take fly a bit then turn 45 degrees left fly a bit then 45 degrees left again. When you reach the middle of the runway you will be at 8500 then turn left a and cross the middle of the runway. Then turn right and head for the golf course. Etc… Wallah

Sorry on my last post should have been de-ice knob(immediately left of the throttle) and the fuel mixture is immediately right of the throttle. Without leaning the mixture it will not have full climb power.

Many thanks DarkKnightProg. I eventually managed to score an “A” . As you say pushing the de-icer in and setting the mixture to 40 - 50% or so helps. I think it gives it another couple of hundred rpm.

I also think you’re dead right on not straying too far from the airport. I got sent back to the runway once for going out too far! So as you say trying to keep a bit closer rather than just heading straight out helps.

I think in the end, what did it for me was trying to focus on keeping it to the required speed of 75 kts on the climb out. That and perhaps going a bit faster on the way to Munds Park than I had been, so as to get there nearer to the time I should - I was always 2 or 3 minutes late!

Finally, with regard to descents; I think I started to start the descent into Sedona a bit sooner, I think as soon as I could see it, rather than waiting to be told, so as as to get to the right altitude for the runway centre. Otherwise it was too much of a rush and I tended to overspeed on the way in. Similarly, once over the runway centre I started to begin the descent to the pattern altitude as quick as I could as well, again, so as not to gain too much speed. Even so, I think I needed to use the flaps for a bit to keep the speed down as I descended and then retracted them again.

Thanks for your help, everyone.

Hope this is of help to others too (I found it pretty hard - it certainly took me long enough lol!).


Not a problem glad to be of help