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VOR Navigation Basics

Using VORs for Navigation

You can only use a VOR to navigate directly TO or FROM wherever the station on the ground is located (often at or near an airport).

Before we go too far into detail about how to use VORs for navigation… what does VOR even stand for?

VOR stands for VHF Omni-directional Range

This is a fancy way of describing a system that uses VHF radio signals to determine where you are in relation to a station on the ground.  A VOR can tell you exactly where you are in DIRECTIONAL relation to the station on the ground.  It cannot by itself tell you how far you are from the station unless it has an additional feature referred to as “DME” (distance measuring equipment).

Since most small GA airplanes do not have “DME” that work off of ground stations (they instead use GPS to measure the distance from airports and stations), we’ll leave that part out for now.

Although a VOR cannot tell you how far you are from a station, just a “radial” that you are on FROM the station, you can use two VORs simultaneously to find the two radials you are on from the two different stations and then draw intersecting lines to find your precise location on the map.