Radio navigation is the name of the game when you are flying a DC-9. Radio navigation, like all new things in life, can be difficult to understand at first. But once you have mastered it, it becomes second nature and you will have a much better mental picture of where you are, where you are going, and how to get there.
And the beauty of it is that this will also be true when you later step up to more modern Flight Management Systems where the mental picture is almost completely replaced by a visual display on the Navigation Display in front of you. Having a visual display of the navigation route certainly is a great tool for pilots, making navigation a breeze. However, having the mental picture is what saves the day when the electronics suddenly shuts down. Radio navigation provides you with the basics of navigation, a foundation if you will, which you can later build upon.
To get you up and flying with radio navigation, I have built a Navigation Simulator.This Navigation Simulator will show you, on a moving map style display, all the VORs and NDBs around you, your position in relation to them, your heading, your bearing from the selected station, the desired course to or from the selected station and where you are in relation to that plus a whole lot of other data. What I'm trying to do with this Navigation Simulator is to give you visually on screen the mental picture that you need to have in your head in order to stay ahead of the aircraft and on top of your navigation. Let's dig a bit deeper into the Navigation Simulator (NS) and find out exactly what this tool can do for you.
The whole point of the Navigation Simulator is to make it easy for you to understand exactly what it going on. The NS is therefore closely linked to the Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI). The HSI is your primary navigation instrument together with the Radio Magnetic Indicator (RMI). When you select and tune a VOR station, the NS will display the exact same data as your HSI. When you select and tune an NDB station, the NS will display the exact same data as the RMI. Not only that, but when you for example change the course on the HSI, the course on the NS will change as well.
Personally, I have found that when the aircraft in the display on the Navigation Simulator is aligned with the Horizontal Situation Indicator, it is much easier to figure out what is going on. You can orient the view on the NS to true or magnetic north, or to the aircraft heading. When you orient the NS display to aircraft heading, you line up the display with the HSI, which is always showing aircraft heading. Then you can rotate the display to true or magnetic north and reference the NS display view against, for example, your charts.
The NS menu give you full control over exactly what to show on the display. You can center display on the selected station if you like. You can display your own ground track. You can load an FSX flight plan and have that displayed over all the navaids. You can declutter the display by only showing the selected station. You can also simply click on any station on the display and automatically have that station's frequency tuned into your NAV radios.
I look forward to hearing your comments on the Navigation Simulator once the DC-9 has been released. I hope you will find this to be a good tool to help you learn how to master the art of radio navigation.