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Overwater Navigation
Chances are that your first cross-country flight in Hawaii will also be your first extended overwater flight. Overwater flying is more demanding than flying over land due to the lack of enroute landmarks, but if you plan your flight carefully and take advantage of the state's VOR facilities, the navigating should still be relatively easy.
      To reduce the possibility of major errors, take a few steps to ensure that your navigational instruments are giving you accurate information. Conduct a VOR check while in the runup area. At Honolulu International, you can use the VOR test frequency of 111.0 MHz, and at other airports use ground checkpoints. Of course your VOR must be tuned to the correct frequency to give accurate information inflight, and the best way to double-check the frequency is to listen to the station identifier. Check your compass against runway heading when in position and holding. Yes, even your faithful friend the compass can lie. Sometimes a radio will become magnetized and pull the compass 30 degrees or more away from an accurate reading. Excessive compass deviations can also be caused by metal objects placed near the compass. Finally, compare the reading of your heading indicator to that of your compass frequently throughout the flight.
      While enroute between islands, and particularly when heading toward Kauai, beware of “phantom Islands.” A group of clouds and their shadows below can sometimes look amazingly like an island when seen from a distance, and if you change your course and pursue one of these phantom islands you'll have about as much chance of finding land as a thirsty desert traveler would have catching a mirage. Instead, continue on your planned heading and use the VOR to confirm that you're flying in the right direction. If your estimated time of arrival comes up and the island still isn't in sight, or if your VOR indicator shows indications that you're not expecting, it's time to seek help.


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