Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Lost Procedures Lesson by wifiCFI


To determine that the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge, risk management, and skills associated with lost procedures and taking appropriate steps to achieve a satisfactory outcome if lost.


The applicant demonstrates understanding of: 

Methods to determine position.

Assistances available if lost.

Risk Management

The applicant demonstrates the ability to identify, assess and mitigate risks, encompassing: 

Collision hazards, to include aircraft, terrain, obstacles and wires.

Distractions, loss of situational awareness, and/or improper task management. 

Failure to record times over waypoints.

Failure to seek assistance or declare an emergency in a deteriorating situation.

Lost Procedures (PHAK C16)

Getting lost in flight is a potentially dangerous situation, especially when low on fuel. 

If a pilot becomes lost, there are some good common sense procedures to follow. 

If a town or city cannot be seen, the first thing to do is climb, being mindful of traffic and weather conditions. 

An increase in altitude increases radio and navigation reception range and also increases radar coverage. 

If the aircraft has a navigational radio, such as a VOR or ADF receiver, it can be possible to determine position by plotting an azimuth from two or more navigational facilities. 

If GPS is installed, or a pilot has a portable aviation GPS on board, it can be used to determine the position and the location of the nearest airport.

Communicate with any available facility using frequencies shown on the sectional chart. 

If contact is made with a controller, radar vectors may be offered.

Communication can also be made to other pilots over CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency).

Remember the 5 C’s:


Climb to a higher altitude for better visual references and radio coverage.


Call for help from ATC facilities or other pilots on CTAF.


Comply with ATC instructions.


Conserve fuel.


Confess to yourself and the aiding ATC facility that you are lost and need assistance.

Private Pilot and Commercial Pilot ACS Standards

The applicant demonstrates the ability to: 

Use an appropriate method to determine position. 

Maintain an appropriate heading and climb as necessary. 

Identify prominent landmarks. 

Use navigation systems/facilities and/or contact an ATC facility for assistance. 

FAA Sources Used for This Lesson

Private Pilot Airmen Certification Standards

Commercial Pilot Airmen Certification Standards

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) Chapter 16

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