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    Re: course, heading, track
    From: Dan Allen
    Date: 2002 Feb 7, 13:05 -0800

    This shows that Garmin's roots are aeronautical rather than nautical,
    since Paul's aeronautical definitions given below match those used
    in my Garmin GPSes.
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Navigation Mailing List
    [mailto:NAVIGATION-L@LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM]On Behalf Of Paul Hirose
    Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 12:40 PM
    Subject: Re: course, heading, track
    Trevor Kenchington wrote:
    > So, if I understand that correctly, U.S. aviation terminology does not
    > distinguish between what we surface-bound types call "heading" and
    > "course". Are aircraft so stable in yaw that the distinction is not needed?
    American fliers use "course" for intended path over ground, and
    "heading" for the direction to point the aircraft nose to make good
    that path. If both directions are measured from the same reference
    (e.g., true), their difference is the "wind correction angle".
    It's assumed aircraft movement through the air is identical to the
    direction its nose is pointing. Airplanes have an advantage over
    sailing vessels in this respect. They have a yaw indicator and a
    control surface (rudder) dedicated to yaw. Since an airplane turns by
    banking, the rudder's job is simply to control yaw, usually to
    minimize it, but sometimes (as when making a crosswind landing) to
    intentionally yaw the plane.
    Actually, in aviation all three terms are commonly used with two
    different meanings. The line from Point A to Point B is called a
    course, but the word is also used for the direction of that line in
    Similarly, we speak of accident investigators reconstructing the
    track of an airplane, but when an inertial navigation system
    displays TRK 340, it's understood to be the instantaneous direction of
    movement over the ground.
    Heading is the predicted direction needed to make good the course,
    and is also the direction the plane is pointed at a given instant.
    I've never found these double meanings confusing, since the intended
    one is obvious from context. Maybe it's the mother duck syndrome, but
    I think the aviation terms are easier to keep straight.
    paulhirose@earthlink.net (Paul Hirose)

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