Flight Planner – Version 3!

Compiling a flight log is a prerequisite to making a cross-country flight. It is used to record the calculations and measurements made in the briefing room, and provides a plan to follow on your knee-board during the actual flight.

The flight log allows you to calculate the heading correction required to achieve a certain track given the forecast wind velocity, and also to estimate your ground speed and thus the time and fuel required for the flight. These calculations are usually done by hand using an E-6B or similar flight computer. This is fine until you realise you’ve made a mistake and need to go back and correct everything. Or maybe you want to set up your flight log the night before, and want to just plug in the wind forecast on the day without having to waste valuable time using the whiz-wheel.

It is much more efficient to use a PC for these simple, but repetitive, calculations. This MS Excel spreadsheet does just that.

Flight Plan

Flight Plan

The spreadsheet contains a lookup table of waypoints that can be easily updated with the latitude and longitude of your own airports and private landing sites. Then simply select the waypoint codes of your departure point and destination on the flight plan, and your required track and distance are calculated automatically. Given the forecast wind velocity, the spreadsheet then calculates the heading you require, your ground speed, and your estimated time enroute.

If you would like more information on the wind calculations done by the flight log, have a look here at the solution to the triangle of velocities. The track and distance are calculated based on the Rhumb line (or loxodrome) between your two coordinates.

The flight log also contains some useful mnemonics for various procedures, and also the available manifold pressure requirements for limited-power operations in the Robinson R22 helicopter. These can all be easily changed to your own needs.

The spreadsheet requires Microsoft Excel 2003 or later.

Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions on how the Flight Planner could be improved.

  Flight Planner v3.01 (9.7 KiB, 2,097 hits)

Legal Stuff

All files and tools on this page are provided “as is” with no express or implied warranty for accuracy or accessibility. Use at your own risk. All calculations should be checked against the relevant pilot’s operating hand book before being relied upon for flight planning purposes.

Posted in Rotorcraft.

Steven Hale leads the operation and development of the international Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network (BiSON), a global network of automated robotic solar telescope run by the University of Birmingham in the UK. His research interests are instrumentation and electronics, and high-resolution optical spectroscopy techniques. In his spare time he has many interests including photography and aviation, and has a private helicopter license rated on the Robinson R22 and R44 aircraft.

This is a private blog and in no way represents opinions or endorsements from the University of Birmingham.


  1. Pingback: Flight Planner – Steven Hale Photography

  2. Hi Steve,
    Question on your Flight Planner.
    I don’t seem to be able to input data into the fields below the first line of flight plan data.
    The numbers appear in the top window but don’t appear in the selected box??

    I admit to being computer challenged but hope you can set me straight.

    Also how do you change the variation, if it’s East?



  3. Hi Jim,

    The numbers don’t appear on each line of the flight plan until you’ve entered something in the “From” box. This is to reduce visual clutter when not every line of the flight plan is used. Type something into cell A4 and the second line will be activated, and so on.

    Easiest way to enter an East variation is to just enter a negative number. So for example +3 degrees East is the same as -3 degrees West.

    Hope that helps! I did try and email you to offer help but you didn’t enter a valid email address.


  4. Pingback: Digital Flight Planner – Version 2! – Steven Hale Photography

  5. Hi.

    This is a great tool you’ve got there. Would it be a possibility to enter manually True Track and distance and to have it calculate TH (plus Var/Dev to create MC) from the wind speed?


  6. Hi John,

    Thanks for your comments.

    The “lite” version of the flight planner allows you to manually enter track and distance.

    The “pro” version uses waypoints and calculates track and distance for your automatically.

    Let me know if you have any problems.

  7. Hi Steve,
    just made some calculations…so the question which units are you using? We in GY are thinking mostly in meter/km etc.
    cu P

  8. Distance unit is nautical miles, and speed unit is knots – ie nautical miles per hour. Standard in the UK and USA etc.

    However, on the “lite” version it shouldn’t make any difference what units you use. So long as you are consistent, the answer that comes out will be in the same units as the values you entered.

    The “pro” version calculates distances in nautical miles, but I can easily change that to work in kilometres if you would prefer.

  9. hi steve
    i`m from Australia , is there a shipping cost with your flight planner, &
    can u customise this to suit aussie flight plans.

  10. Hi Mark,

    No there’s no shipping costs, it’s just an electronic download.

    There’s no reason it shouldn’t work worldwide. Just enter your waypoints using North and East as positive.


  11. Steve
    I will enter a nav comp and want to do drift calcs on the run –
    on TAS does matter if this is knots or MPH – I want to work in MPH how do you change this

    The comp will be waypoints from to and will be about 8 points to navigate to

    If I know the coordinates what format is used for entering them
    If I don’t know coordinates does it matter what Im really after is the HDG M
    I can take the TRK and will know the W/S / DIR – this shoiuld give me the GS and HDG M for each leg
    I would then add them up to give me a time of arrival

    Looks great

  12. Hi Chris,

    No, the speed doesn’t matter what units you use – just make sure you’re consistent. Don’t enter TAS in MPH and wind speed in knots, for example.

    If you know the coordinates and are using the “professional” spreadsheet, you need to enter them in decimal degrees. I’ve put a little converter on the data page to help you convert from DMS to decimal degrees, if needed.

    When using the “lite” version of the spreadsheet, you can just enter your track and wind velocity to get heading.

    Let me know if you need any more help 🙂

  13. Ahh ha, at last I found a flightplan to double check my “manual” calculations. Gives me everything I need, good job and it is very accurate.

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