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What is the best way to start investing?

I will break down this answer into two blocks. First of all, I will show you 5 key investing lessons that I have learned over the years. Secondly, I will describe a process to start investing in rental properties.Key investing lessons #1: Are you investing or speculating?One of the first investing lessons that you need to take is to understand the difference between investing and speculating. Investing is all about committing cash or capital to get a return. Speculating, on the contrary, is committing cash or capital hoping to get a return. Does it not sound like there is a difference? Let me give you an example. When you buy Bitcoin and hope it will appreciate in value, this is when you are speculating. Conversely, when you buy real estate that gives you positive cash flow every month, this is investing.Key investing lessons #2: Do your investment decisions beat inflation?I will be blunt. Saving is not investing. Savers are losers in today's economy. Many economies nowadays suffer from inflation. Irrespective of what official statistics say, you just need more money in most cases to purchase the same basket of goods. When investing in real estate, you are at least in line with inflation. You can also beat the inflation by creating additional value. Also, when owning a rental property, you can control prices and adjust them over time to get a purchasing power that you need.Key investing lessons #3: Do you buy assets or liabilities?It might be one of the most controversial investing lessons. Buying a house is not investing. Most people buy houses/ flats they live in expecting that their value will grow in time. I agree it might improve and they might think that they are getting richer. They might also think that this is a great way to secure peaceful retirement. In fact, all those years when they own their property, they will be losing real cash on maintenance, taxes, repairs, upgrades, etc. Look for assets that pay you cash, not for liabilities that take money out of your pockets.Key investing lessons #4: Are you getting richer or only richer on paper?Many people follow the advice of bankers, brokers, etc. You know what? When you follow people, who earn money by selling you something you will never get rich. All of them get hard cash commission when you invest. In reality, it is only them who get rich in cash. You are might only get rich on paper, e.g., your stock valuation. Investing is not about getting rich on paper. Investing is all about getting cash returns.Key investing lessons #5: Do you use the power of leverage?I am a real estate guy. Let me tell you one thing. When buying real estate you have great opportunities to leverage your purchase. In many cases, banks or others institutions would finance your buy-to-let purchase with no money down, which means unlimited cash on cash return. Just google cash on cash return to learn more.Finally, investing requires you to understand how money works. Check your knowledge today. You need to become skilled at making, controlling and safeguarding your money. As soon as you understand your budget and arrive at annual surplus, you can use that money to make a down payment on a rental property.I have reflected on my 10 years of experience to write about a structured process you should follow to succeed in this business. I am sharing lessons learned and warning signs. I hope this will be an inspiration to you.YOU MUST FOLLOW A STRUCTURED PROCESS TO BECOME GREAT AT INVESTING IN RENTAL PROPERTYInvesting in rental property starts with selecting the right piece of real estateThis sounds easy. There is a number of elements you need to consider when investing in rental property. Three key things here for starters: location, location, location. Some other things to consider are certain math you need to do. You also need to commit yourself to viewing a certain number of properties before you make an offer. Practice makes perfect.Location, location, locationFirst of all, if you choose a good location you will enhance your chances of finding a good tenant (you can read more on tenants later on in this text). Secondly, a good location is also a great way to manage a risk of your property decreasing in value. Finally, great location will also be a good argument when negotiating financing with your bank.Investing in rental property is numbers gameWhen you buy a home or flat for yourself and your family you will probably be more guided by emotions. When investing in rental property you absolutely must understand that this is all about numbers. To cut the long story short you need to make sure that every single investment decision will contribute positively to your cash flow. What do I mean by that? You will have certain expenses: mortgage, taxes, maintenance and repairs, and improvement. On the other hand, you will have rent paid by your tenants. If you are spending more than getting on a month by month basis than you have done something wrong.Viewing more properties increases your success rate in investing in rental propertyFinally, let me cast some light on a common mistake. People get so excited to start building their financial independence that they will buy the first, the second or the third property they have seen. Don't do it. Have a look at ten or twenty. Get some experience. Compare various options. Practice your numbers game.THE BIG DAY COMES. YOU ARE ABOUT TO PURCHASE REAL ESTATE. INVESTING IN RENTAL PROPERTY IS NOT A PLAN ANYMORE IT BECOMES REAL.You have followed a rigorous and time-consuming process to select your first rental property. You are now ready to purchase it and start investing in rental property. The key question that you need to answer: what is the best way to finance it to achieve the greatest results?The power of leverage when investing in rental propertyOne of the most powerful real estate investing tips is to use leverage. Financial institutions are more than happy to finance rental properties which means that you only need to put up some cash up front to become a landlord. Using leverage helps you achieve more in a shorter period. I have used leverage massively over the last ten years. It allowed me to grow significantly over time. I need to underline one thing here. Fast growth is great but before you decide to expand fast start slow and small. This is how you will learn what assets are all about. You will make mistakes. Everyone does. It is better to make a little mistake and learn a lesson than make a big mistake and be unable to recover from it for many years. Let me show you a couple of lessons learned so that you can avoid some mistakes on your way to financial independence.Lessons learned on leveraging when investing in rental propertiesFollow a golden rule o 20% down payment for your safety and better priceOne of the golden rules when investing in rental property is to pay 20% of your project in cash. There are at least two key reasons for that.First of all, this is for your own safety in case of real estate market prices go down. I know that salespeople like real estate developers and bankers will tell you that real estate prices always go up. We have seen in times and again that it is not necessarily the case.The second reason is, that financial institutions will be willing to give you a better price for financing if you show that you have some cash to be paid upfront. There is a mechanism in banking called scoring. Based on a number of demographical data, financial data and behavioral data banks calculate how much risk they will take when extending financing to you. The less the risk the better the price.Follow 20% rule when you are starting investing in rental properties. Buy five or ten units and you will know if you can relax that condition or stick to it on your journey to financial independence.Make sure you understand your debt to income ratioFinancial independence does not necessarily mean that you are debt free. One of the reasons is that there are different types of debt. Some debt may drag you down other can significantly accelerate your journey to financial independence. Irrespective of the type of debt you carry you need to always understand how much in percent your annual debt payments are in relation to your net income. You will probably not want to see this metric greater than 25% for your safety.I highly recommend that before you started investing in rental property you make all efforts to eliminate all bad debt that you carry. I am talking car lease payments, credit cards, cash loans, overdrafts and retail debt. The less bad debt you carry the better your debt to income ratio. More importantly, your scoring with financial institutions will rocket and again you will get a better price on your leveraged investment.Avoid toxic loans and shop around before you signBeware of toxic bank products when investing in rental property. Variable rate mortgages on sale are the greatest example. You will see ads, posters, and commercials with rates that are way below what competition charges. Believe me, I have been in banking for 15 years and know that if you get something cheap at the start there is a good chance you will pay for it later. You need to be especially cautious with variable rate financing that might be attractive for a year or two. But then when standard rates kick in you might be unpleasantly surprised. As a rule of thumb stick to fixed-rate financing when you start your journey with investing in rental property.Do not sign a loan agreement with the first bank that is willing to lend you the money. When you have 20% in cash and you followed my recommendation to cut on bad debt, all banks will want to lend you money. Get at least five offers. Compare interest rates. Compare additional conditions. Do they want to sell you insurance, bank account or any other product? Make sure you understand the total cost before you sign the best contract.YOU NOW OWN IT. INVESTING IN RENTAL PROPERTY DOES NOT FINISH WHEN YOU BUY. IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.Well done! You have selected and bought your first property. So far everything you considered in terms of return on investment was all in your excel file. It is the time to put your calculations and assumptions to the test. The only judge here is the free market. Potential tenants will prove you right or wrong in terms of setting rent. Setting the price is only a tip of an iceberg when it comes to rental property management. Here is a number of steps that you will typically need to make when investing in rental property. You can always consider hiring a professional property manager but that is a different story.Marketing your rental propertyYou will need to sell your property to potential customers. The rise of the Internet made it extremely easy to get thousands of clients using popular real estate sites. Make sure you have great pictures, add a video if you can. Attach a floor plan and do not forget to be as much descriptive in the ad as possible. You might want to showcase the benefits of location, transport links, the proximity of entertainment venues or any other thing that might interest your potential customer.Showing your rental property to potential clients and selecting the best customerPeople have started calling you and want to meet and have a look at the property. Make sure you are prepared. Have a copy of most important documents. Know costs that will typically be borne by the tenant. Understand your negotiation margin. Make sure you highlight the importance of taking a cash deposit in case of damage or lack of payments. Be frank with your clients. Also be cautious. Same as you did not start investing in rental property with the first piece of real estate you saw, same you do not want to let it to the first person that shows up at your door. You need to understand if they have a stable source of income. It is always great to get their references from previous places where they rented in order to avoid troublemakers.Contracting and handing off your property to clientsI used to teach contracting law to students at a university. The key thing I always repeated is that a well-written contract is the greatest tool to manage your risks. When investing in rental property your contract should be written by a lawyer, especially when this is your first rental property. Get a good template once and you will avoid a lot of headache along the way. Make sure that on top of the contract you always, let me repeat, always prepare a hand over report. This is where you need to make a detailed inventory of everything that is a part of your rental property. Listing items is not enough. Make sure you describe their technical conditions and take pictures. You will save yourself a lot of trouble when your tenant moves out and does not want to cover for things they broke or stole.Collecting rent, paying bills and other adminYou will get to understand that there is always some admin work when investing in rental property. You need to make sure that rent is paid and follow-up if it is not. There will be some payments that you will need to make, like taxes, insurance. You might want to inspect your property every quarter or so to see if there is no damage made and maybe have a short chat with neighbors. Other things might also come up. Be prepared.INVESTING IN RENTAL PROPERTY REQUIRES PREPARATIONLast but not least you need to understand how money works before you start investing in a rental property. This will require you to work on your financial IQ. The fact is that financial IQ is not something you are typically born with. Your financial intelligence needs to be trained and developed by yourself. Those people I know, who have succeeded in investing in a rental property, share some common characteristics. They all understand their budget – what comes in and what goes out. Debt is used only as leverage by them and they keep away from bad debt. They buy assets that give them cash which is used to buy more assets. More interestingly, they have not been born like that. I saw them develop over time. They have made a lot of mistakes but that have taken their lessons.Start today learning today. Check the opportunity below.An ultimate guide to kickstart your journey to financial independenceDo not forget to upvote this answer and follow me. Thank you for your time.

How do airplanes know where to land with accuracy?

Airplanes don’t know, and don’t have to.Pilots have to know, and the science and art of navigation has been developed entirely for that purpose.Navigation in aviation means knowing where you are at this moment, and how to go from here to there.▲The navigational challenge: how do you get to the airport?Navigation first started with pilotage: the pilot looks at the ground features below and identifies them on a map to tell him/her where she is.▲Look down and……▲…follow the railroad tracks!▲Advertisement of Strandard Oil Company for their aerial markers.▲Early rooftop markings for pilots, in 10-foot letters.▲Pre-World War II rooftop marking▲Early rooftop neon signsMarking Aerial HighwaysBy the end of the Second World War, the US was well along the way to laying out markers on the ground for aerial navigation:THE United States system of air markers —which consists of orientation symbols painted on roofs and sides of buildings and on highways and water towers—may become a world-wide boon to private pilots as a result of recommendations recently adopted by the International Civil Aviation Conference at Chicago.The conference, adopting a committee report setting forth the standard American marker as a model for other countries, said such air guides should be placed wherever necessary to determine aircraft position, and specified that “every city and town may be marked.”The air marker, which is now recognized as standard for this country and is expected to serve as the pattern for an international system, is more complete than markers erected before the war.The major difference is that symbols for latitude and longitude have been added.Today’s air marker includes the name of the town in which it is located—or the nearest town, if the marker is outside city limits—latitude and longitude in degrees and minutes, an arrow pointing true north, and another arrow pointing toward the nearest airport having paved runways.Special symbols may be added to direct pilots to air parks.Letters and symbols, with a few exceptions, are chrome yellow on a black background.Ten feet is the minimum height for letters on roofs of buildings and ground markers must be at least 20 feet high.The United States already has far more air guides for private flyers than other countries but is only “off to a good start” toward providing an adequate system of markers throughout the country.The CAA-sponsored program to install air markers began in 1935, and 30,000 markers were completed by December, 1941.The program to erect air markers was halted soon after Pearl Harbor when the Army ordered all markers removed along the east, west, and gulf coasts.Nearly 2,500 markers—representing six years’ work—were blacked out in six weeks with labor crews provided by the Army.But the wartime setback was not without benefit to the marker program.The fact that the War Department thought the markers would help invaders landing on the coasts did more than anything else to sell the nation on their value.With the air marking program discontinued at the outset of the war, the Army found—as early as the spring of 1942—that many pilots flying near training bases were getting lost and cracking up.Consequently, a call went out to CAA for air markers in 50-mile areas around the training fields.Air markers went up in 50-mile areas around Alabama’s Maxwell Field, Thunderbird and Falcon Fields in Arizona, Langley Field in Virginia, and scores of other training fields in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and other states.The program calls for markers in every town and village.Cities require several markers, at least one on each side of the city.A projected goal of 100,000 markers throughout the country is “far too conservative” to meet the needs of private pilots.Air markers mean to private flyers what the nation’s highway signs mean to automobile drivers—there can’t be too many.In order to speed the installation of aerial highway signposts, she gives technical assistance to interested local groups on request.Complete directions for erecting markers are contained in the CAA Air Marking Bulletin No. 12, available on request.WPA funds were formerly allocated for the national air marking program, but no federal funds are now available.Financing is now a function of state aeronautical associations and local groups—Rotary clubs, pilot clubs, and business groups.CAA is now marking the roofs of its hundreds of range and communications station buildings in accordance with the new system as a maintenance job, and state and local groups are undertaking their own programs with the CAA extending technical assistance when needed.Amelia Earhart was the original sponsor of the federal air-marking program.She and Phoebe Omlie, another aviation pioneer now with CAA, devised the pro-gram and Miss Earhart sold it to the Government on the theory that private flying must be made safe before it could become popular with the average citizen.Thus, in 1935, a nation-wide air marking program was launched under sponsorship of the old Bureau of Air Commerce.WPA labor and funds were used as were contributions of state aeronautical commissions, committees, and local groups.Some 30,000 markers were sprinkled through all states in the six years preceding Pearl Harbor at an average cost of about $100 per marker.They went a long way toward eliminating the wide-spread practice of buzzing railroad depots to peer at the names of towns placed under eaves, a direct cause of numerous crack-ups, injuries, and deaths.As a result of intensive studies during the past three years, post-war signposts will be much better than pre-war.Inclusion of latitudes and longitudes enable pilots to “pinpoint” their locations and make it possible for the air marking system, as known in the United States, to be used internationally. An improved type of block lettering has been devised for increased visibility.International orange and white, and a variety of other colors, including silver, have been used for markers in the past.But chrome yellow on black, which can be seen from 3,000 feet, has been proved to have greater visibility than any other color combination and is suitable for more different backgrounds of varying terrain.When terrain tends to obscure colors, whitepainted crushed stone or concrete markers are favored.Chrome yellow on black was chosen following a series of tests and flight observations during which nearly all color combinations were checked in different areas of the country.In planning a suitable distribution air markers, the CAA divided the cot try into “grids,” each 15 miles square markers to be placed near the con of each grid so that a flyer cannot out of sight of a marker any considerable length of time.The original “grid” plan has been modified somewhat, as it I became apparent that the most travellled routes require more markers and that very large cities should have as many a dozen.While painted rooftop markers are “the best possible type” from a visibility standpoint, other types are more suitable for certain sections of the country.The rooftop marker is best in mild climates where there is not much snow.In northern sections, where snows may last a long time, markers should be painted on the sides rather than the tops of buildings so that they are not obscured by snow.Markers in regions with heavy snowfall may also be painted on sides of silos, grain elevators, or water towers.Letters and arrows formed of crushed rock and painted white are recommended for mountain sides.In desert areas, letters should be made of metal strips with enamel coating and mounted on posts a few feet above the ground so that sand drifts will not obscure them.Air markers may also be placed on highways in areas where there is not too much snow, and a large number of these highway markers have already been installed.They are not considered as satisfactory as rooftop markers, however. Another variation of the air marker is formation of letters and symbols with small shrubs on lawns, road intersections and cloverleaf drives.In climates where shrubs lost their leaves in winter they should be evergreen. In all cases, ground markers must have letters at least 20 feet in height, while 10 feet is the minimum for rooftop markers.Many markers erected before the war were too small. If the name of a town is long, it is better to abbreviate the name than to reduce the size of the letters.Width of the letters should be one-eighth of the height.Wider letters may blur, however. In selecting a rooftop, the following factors should be considered: the roof should be in good condition; it should be a prominent roof near the center of the community or near a main highway or road; the view should not be obstructed by overhanging trees or tall adjacent buildings; it should be located where it will not be obstructed by smoke.These rules also apply to highway air markers.The CAA will advise as to a suitable location for markers, but no CAA approval of the site is necessary.All air markers installed before the war now need repainting, and latitudes and longitudes should be added.The 2,500 markers which were blacked out need replacement and more than 70,000 new ones must be installed.Maintenance of markers is not expected to be a serious problem.Rooftop markers need repainting about every three years, depending on weather conditions.Highway markers must be repainted whenever necessary, and CAA recommends that they be inspected at least twice a year for signs of wear.Ground markers of crushed stone bound together with cement require only an occasional repainting with a white cement and skimmed milk mixture.Other ground markers, constructed of loose aggregate, should be repainted at least once a year.Pruned shrub markers require constant care and upkeep.CAA has made no recommendations as to how communities shall maintain their markers, but it is suggested that civic groups may volunteer for the job.CAA flight surveys to check condition of all markers may soon be authorized.In many states, plans for extensive air marking systems are well advanced—work has already been started on some.The Army last fall removed its ban on markers on the east and gulf coasts and only the area 150 miles inland along the west coast is now subject to the restrictions.Although labor and equipment shortages are hindering installations elsewhere to some extent, there is much enthusiasm for the program.State aeronautical commissions in Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, West Virginia, and Connecticut have their programs ready and some work started. In Massachusetts, North Carolina and Missouri—states which have no aeronautical commissions—committees have planned state-wide programs in which cities will participate by placing their own markers.The Civil Air Patrol is backing the program in North Carolina, and the CAP in Texas has begun a project to mark 500 Texas towns.Chambers of commerce in the state are also cooperating.Pennsylvania has a well-advanced program.In many other states, legislation providing funds and working methods is under way.Illuminated air markers are included in the post-war sky-sign program.These will be much more expensive to construct, maintain, and operate, but they will be the last word in aerial signposts.Two general illumination systems are applicable: direct light, in which markers are outlined by exposed incandescent lamps or gaseous-discharge tubes, placed along the center line of letters and symbols; and reflected light, in which case either floodlight projectors with spread lenses or industrial reflectors are arranged to give a uniform distribution of light over the entire surface of the markers.The direct light method is more effective than floodlighting because it gives greater brilliance.Either method may be used for roof markers, while reflected light is considered best for ground markers.Oil companies have installed a very few illuminated markers—a general installation program is not an immediate prospect.Incidentally, while the exact origin of air markers is somewhat clouded, Mrs Noyes believes the idea originated with large oil companies.Several years before the national air marker program was launched, several oil companies began to mark all the towns where they had gas stations.The Standard Oil Company of Ohio constructed many markers, while Standard Oil of California and the Richfield Oil Company had large pre-war air marking programs on the west coast—and did their own obliterating after the Army’s ban was imposed.To aid groups planning air marker installations, CAA has designed a set of three plywood templates with which unskilled laborers can lay out any letter of the alphabet or any figure from 10 to 20 feet in height.Templates are available to interested groups.The air marking bulletin tells how to use the templates, how to mix paint, how to select the site, and gives other pointers needed by groups embarking on air marking programs.Air markers now offer the simplest, cheapest, and most effective guides for private flyers and it is anticipated that they will be needed for a number of years.Eventually, radio aids may be perfected for the private pilot so that the system of air markers will no longer be required—but that day, according to CAA, is a long way off.How far the international marker program will be extended in the immediate future is a question that will have to go unanswered until a final agreement is approved by all nations concerned.This should be on the books by mid-1945.▲Giant shrubbery marker, 1945▲Metal marker in the desert, 1945In the early days of flying, towns had their names painted on big white letters on top of their water tanks, so pilots passing over could read those from up above and know where they were.Today. getting from here to there is no longer a matter of raising a wet finger to determine the direction of the wind and flying from bonfire t0 bonfire through the dark night.Since aerial navigation began with pilotage, here is something for aviation fans.An Ode to Pilotage(The following clearly does not apply to commercial airline aviation, since they have heavy-duty equipment, heavy-duty procedures, and heavy-duty training in the usage of that equipment, and therefore airliners never get lost.)Pilotage, the most basic navigational technique available to pilots, is the technique that falls into disuse soonest after pilots discover the ability of VORs to lead them by the hand from one place to another.Pilotage involves drawing a line from your departure airport to your destination on a sectional chart and marking checkpoints along the line.Once you launch, you hold a predetermined—or adjusted—compass course as you monitor your progress across the ground and over your checkpoints.It is the technique that falls into disuse soonest after pilots discover the ability of VORs to lead them by the hand from one place to another.There are, nevertheless, times when the old ways are necessary, and even times when they are better than the new ones.VORs do not serve well in mountainous terrain, for instance.Sometimes they are too widely spaced or in the wrong places: the airport at which you want to land may be far from a VOR, or you may be making a trip into a foreign country where a VOR, or even an ADF, is as much a bemusing oddity as a navigational aid.Or weather may force you down to an altitude so low that radio reception is lost or undependable.Pilotage is indispensable for low-level flying in weather—although it is also most difficult under those conditions.On the other hand, in the sense that they enable a pilot to fly in a straight line where VORs may lead him on a zigzagging course, it can serve as free area navigation.There’s another thing that one forgets too easily: that is the pleasure of attending to the ground as you fly.Most pilots are inclined to fly higher and higher, because high altitudes offer a number of attractions: generally better fuel efficiency, higher speeds, smoother and cooler air, better radio reception and, to the extent that they use it, better visibility for pilotage.But flying high is also quite boring.Peter Garrison, a private pilot who writes for many aviation publications, writes:There is a certain point at which scenery ceases to give pleasure, and it isn’t too far up.From 7,000 or 8,000 feet above the ground, even great scenic chestnuts like the Grand Canyon are stale.From 500 or 1,000 feet, however, even flat, monotonous farmlands become a fascinating panorama, and the sight of cows grazing, and of the web of their paths to and from water, gives a benign satisfaction.Just be sure you know the location of all the tall towers.At that low an altitude, time passes quickly.When your attention is riveted by the passing scene, you forget to be bored.Nothing makes an airplane faster than a good distraction, and the few miles an hour you lose by descending from the empyrean are dwarfed by your feeling of surprise when you find yourself at your destination after a flight that seems to have only just begun.The best of both worlds, actually, is to combine pilotage with the radios, but not to allow yourself to become completely dependent on the avionics.You might, for instance, plan a flight to make a straight course from departure to destination, passing over or near one or two VORs on the way, but otherwise relying on pilotage.Non-directional beacons or AM radio station transmitters can also be used, if you have an ADF, to help keep you on course.You don’t have to fly over them; it’s sufficient to keep track of your progress by verifying when you pass to the right or left, and to get some sense of your position by comparing your heading with the bearing of the ADF needle.Though you can time the swing of the needle as you pass abeam a station and compute the station’s distance, a little bit of practice gives you a feel for “close,” “medium” and “far” in terms of fast, medium and slow needle swings.More precision than that is rarely necessary, unless you’re completely lost.Pilotage requires almost continuous attention.The whole point is to know exactly where you are on the map at all times, and to do this you constantly have to compare the chart with the terrain below.If you let ambiguities or doubtful identifications creep in, you can quickly get lost.If you can’t find enough landmarks, or if cloud cover obscures the scenery, you have to fall back on dead reckoning.Dead reckoning takes its ominous name from the word “deductive”; it ought really to be “ded” reckoning. It is a supremely rational style of navigation.It argues that if you know your speed, your direction and the time you have been maintaining them, then you know where you are and, conversely, that to get somewhere it is sufficient to know your speed and direction, and then to navigate entirely by the clock.Pilots are sceptical of dead reckoning, but only because they don’t use it enough.The story of Lindbergh dead reckoning for 20 hours across the Atlantic and making his landfall in Ireland precisely where he had planned is somewhat overworked—it was as much luck as anything else—but the principle is sound, and ferry pilots daily repeat his trick, with more meaningful success because they know the winds with greater certainty than Lindbergh did.One feels astonished to make a perfect landfall after 10 hours without a navigational fix, but there is no reason to.Direction, speed and time determine position absolutely.Dead reckoning only supplements pilotage, however; visual navigation begins and ends with pilotage, and only fills in its gaps with dead reckoning.In hazy weather, where slant visibility may be only a mile or two, a ground track must be held with great accuracy or a landmark may slide by unnoticed.The same is true when flying at very low altitude: 1,000 or 2,000 feet above the ground, a pilot can see only a few miles to either side of his course, and landmarks that might be obvious from a higher altitude may not be recognizable.But if the pilot knows ground-speed, flies a heading precisely and keeps up with timing—the sine qua nons of dead reckoning—the chances of the next check-point being visible are best.Direction, speed and time determine position absolutely.Dead reckoning only supplements pilotage, however; visual navigation begins and ends with pilotage, and only fills in its gaps with dead reckoning.In hazy weather, where slant visibility may be only a mile or two, a ground track must be held with great accuracy or a landmark may slide by unnoticed.The same is true when flying at very low altitude: 1,000 or 2,000 feet above the ground, a pilot can see only a few miles to either side of his course, and landmarks that might be obvious from a higher altitude may not be recognizable.But if the pilot knows ground-speed, flies a heading precisely and keeps up with timing—the sine qua nons of dead reckoning—the chances of the next check-point being visible are best.Picking landmarks that fence you in is important in places where there aren’t a lot of strong features on the ground.In Alaska, northern Canada or South America, occasional roads and rivers may be the only recognizable features in the landscape.In order to find a destination, it may be necessary to aim well to one side of the course, fly until reaching a certain river or road, and then turn to follow it.The more you intend to rely on pilotage and the less on radio, the more sense it makes to alter your straight course to take advantage of natural pathways.When you’re planning a cross-country for your private license, you may be encouraged to draw a straight line from origin to destination and to pick landmarks near the line to navigate by.Sometimes, however, it’s better to be humbler, and let the landmarks draw the line themselves.Especially in mountain flying, a detour—even a large detour—to bring you near some unmistakable landmark is preferable to the efficiency of a straight line on which you may get lost.Some aerial pathways serve better than others.Highways and railroad tracks are usually unambiguous; rivers are less so, al-though a large river may be as good as an interstate.Valleys in the mountains can be very poor; the topological coloration on charts implies that a valley will appear very clearly defined when in reality it might be barely discernible.Mountain peaks also make mediocre landmarks, unless they are isolated; among a group of peaks, differences in height may be disguised by differences in distance.Landmarks are even harder to find if you use a chart with too small a scale.Except under the best conditions—such as following a coastline—sectional charts are vastly preferable for pilotage to world and oversee charts. The clock is no less important than the compass in navigation.During long legs, it’s wise to note on the map the time of passage of each landmark, and to look ahead at future landmarks and note the time you expect to pass them.If you lose track of your position, you will then at least have a record of your last definite fix.When you are using landmarks that lie athwart your track, like highways or rivers, it’s surprisingly easy to lose track of your lateral position.I had a striking demonstration of that last fall, during a vacation in South America.On a flight from Lima, Peru to Bogota, Colombia, we crossed the Andes just north of Lima, briefly received a couple of radio beacons in eastern Peru, and then dead reckoned for about three hours over the headwaters of the Amazon.It was extremely hazy, and the slant visibility was three or four miles at best.Visibility hardly mattered, however, because there were few identifiable features below anyway.There was only jungle, broken here and there by rivers that seemed determined to mimic all other rivers.Sometimes dark rainsqualls swung across our path. In this situation there was only one way to proceed: hold heading, keep track of time, and wait for something recognizable to appear.The uncertainty seemed endless, but finally—and this is the common, though not inevitable outcome of navigating through seemingly featureless wastes—an unmistakable landmark appeared, a little town called Putumayo with an airstrip, an island and a hook in the river all its own.We had enough fuel to take us all the way up to the Caribbean, if need be, so no matter how ineptly I had navigated, we eventually would have figured out where we were.When the conditions for pilotage are particularly bad, it’s always essential to have some sure-fire landmark somewhere ahead. In the United States, that sure-fire landmark is almost always available in the form of a radio beam.Visual navigation is one of the basic skills that we allow to rust when technology frees us from dependence on them.But technology is never entirely reliable, and at any rate, a skill is a skill; we should not let something so hard-won slip away.Those skills are the foundations of our training in navigation.Besides, it’s good to renew one’s acquaintance with a landscape that, between air pollution and creeping urbanization, is becoming harder and harder to find.❑

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