My Number 1 Checkride Tip – Cross Country Deviations

Last week I shared with you some great tips about excelling at the oral portion of your private pilot checkride (video here if you missed it) In todays video I want to share my best tip and formula for cross country deviations….. On your checkride you WILL be asked to deviate (and without the help of your GPS or iPad) 🙁 I’ll show you in today’s video how to be better prepared so you can do what is most important and that is to fly the airplane.

Want to grab a seat in the webinar mentioned in the video? CLICK HERE

  • Hi Jason, For my training, I developed a flip note book that I used that listed all airports in the area that we normally flew, the distances apart, and the headings. When I took my checkride, I had a page prepared for each checkpoint with heading, distance, speed and time to the next checkpoint as well as all airports surrounding that checkpoint that I could be diverted to. For each I had heading, distance, and relevant airport info. Using those notes and a wind index it was simple. I also had airport diagrams and instrument approaches for each airport along the route prepared in alphabetical order and tabbed. The DPE called my instructor following my ride and told him that he had never seen a pilot so prepared for a ride. One thing I would mention is when you are looking at your sectional to get your heading to the diversion airport do not forget to adjust your heading to account for magnetic variation. I would also suggest that before you start the turn you do a quick check of the DG to the mag compass since you are normally straight and level in the moments before the diversion.

  • mzeroa

    That’s AWESOME dude!

    Isn’t it great to have all that prepared ahead of time on the ground? That way when it’s crunch time you look good under pressure haha


  • Mark Lansdell


    Isn’t the new course already pretty much plotted using V 537 or 145 or 143°?
    As for can you make on the fuel you have on board? It’s far shorter to the
    diversion field, Leesburg than to the original destination which is not shown. If you planned on
    .5 hours of reserve fuel you should have much more available at the diversion
    airport so a heavier landing. That leaves a quick and dirty distance measurement to calculate the
    time needed to get to in this case, Leesburg. Wind adjustments aren’t going to
    make much difference in a trip that short at the relatively low speeds of an
    SEL, fixed gear, aircraft. With the available information the answers to all
    three questions can be available in seconds with your time to target within a
    couple of minutes. You may have already calculated the TSD to Leesburg. Using
    two fingers on one hand like a compass, make and arc on the sectional from the
    checkpoint and Leesburg to the checkpoint along your original layline. Look for
    the closest checkpoint time and you’ll have time to Leesburg too.



  • Larry M Diamond.

    I love the wind card. In my 28 years of flying I never saw a tool that is so simple and useful. On my student dress rehearsal for the long solo cross country Jason Wind Chart is going to Freemont Ohio.

  • mzeroa

    Awesome Larry glad to hear it!

  • mzeroa


    You’re very correct for this example you could have just used that Victor airway. However not every diversion is so easy.

    In regards to the “will you make it” question of course you will we know that. But the examiners want to see how you come to that answer.


  • Travis Willhoite

    Also, something to keep in mind… During my checkride diversion, the DPE had me divert to a field that required a cruising altitude change since I was over 3000 feet. I didn’t catch this at first until the examiner “thought he spotted” traffic coming toward us at what looked to be our same altitude. I realized what I hadn’t done and corrected the error and we continued with the checkride. It just reinforced that there is a lot happening during a simulated or real diversion and the details are very important!

  • Fuzzball

    Can anyone point me in direction to learn more about making a wind card?

  • Mark C

    I passed my Private in February, and Jason’s tips and book helped me do it. I wasn’t nearly as prepared as Kenn, and I either had never seen or forgot about the wind card. That is one cool tip which I will use every time I fly now, I tend to take off with no flight plan and no particular destination in mind sometimes, and having that card could come in handy in many ways.

  • Hi Jason! I stumbled upon your videos last week and have become hooked, I’m not training for a PPL but one day hoping to. On Flight sim 2004 I’ve been practicing the wind triangle for cross country, I find that turning on to the True heading for desired destination in the middle of a downwind leg has often been accurate. But as I’ve had no proper teaching in this sense, would what I’ve described be standard procedure? Also, is there a quick calculation for wind deviation?

    Sorry for such basic questions Jason

    Thanks for the many great videos you’ve shared!


Share This

Share this post with your friends!