The Earth
The Solar System & Time
Using Aeronautical Charts
Basics of Navigation
Distance, Speed & Time
Vertical Navigation
Fuel Planning
Practical Navigation Techniques
Radio Navigation
Practice Exam

Heading, Track & Drift

When flying from A to B, the effect of the wind needs to be considered. If you were to simply point the aircraft’s nose towards B, the wind may blow you off track.

The Track is the path an aircraft flies over the ground.
The Desired Track is the path that you want to fly. In this case, the desired track is the line from A to B.
The Track Made Good is the path that the aircraft actually flies. In this case, the track made good is the dashed red line.
Our goal is to make the track made good match the desired track!
Track Error Angle is the angle between your desired track and your track made good (i.e. the difference between where you want to fly and where you are actually flying)
The angular difference between the desired track (also known as the required track) and the track made good is known as track error

To fly along the desired track, we need to change the heading of the aircraft to be slightly into wind.

Drift is the angle between the aircraft’s heading and the track made good (i.e. how far the wind is pushing you).

When the difference between our heading and desired track equals the drift, our track made good will match our desired track.

The angular difference between the heading and the track is known as drift