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Version 1 May 2006



roads and physical features. If the ground crew have exactly the same map as the pilot it is much easier when giving directions to each other.

You must mark ABF declared sensitive zones (SZs) on your flight maps. For details of SZs consult local balloon pilots, and check the ABF website.

You must be familiar with typical topographic map symbols, and be able to give a position by grid reference or latitude and longitude promptly and confidently (see below).

It is quite acceptable to transfer essential information from the aviation chart to your topographic map. This is easier than trying to follow both the chart and the map while flying. Your map must show aerodromes, controlled airspace, prohibited, restricted and danger areas (as required in CAO 95.54).

The best way to learn navigation is by using maps and charts every time you go ballooning – before, during and after the flight. It does not matter whether or not you are on board the balloon, as map skills are just as important for the retrieve crew. If you are not confident with topographic maps, don’t be alarmed at the detail. It is largely a matter of practice. Ask your instructor to help you get oriented. Check the scale and the grid size (the distance between grid lines). Learn the symbols for key features, and practice identifying on the map some of the features you will most easily see from the air, such as hills and valleys, towns, roads, rivers, towers, silos, railway lines and major powerlines.

Some people prefer to turn the map so it is lying in the same direction as the countryside it represents. This can make it easier to recognise and plot directions, but harder to read the words. Just do what works best for you.

Grid references

The grid is the matrix of horizontal and vertical lines on topographic maps, used to help locate a point on the map. The distance between grid lines usually represents 1km on 1:50,000 maps (1km or 2km on 1:100,000 maps), but you should always check it. Grid lines are numbered from 00 to 99 at the edge of the map – they eventually repeat, but not on any single map sheet. The grid reference (GR) for a point on the map is found by measuring across, then up (remembered as ‘Easting then Northing’). If you get this the wrong way round, you will locate a completely different place!

Example: Choose a point on the map (say a road intersection).

Easting – read off the nearest vertical grid lines to the chosen point by counting across (say the point lies between lines 35 and 36), then estimate how many tenths the point is beyond the 35 line (say 2 tenths). The easting for that point is 352.

ABF Pilot Training Manual Part 8

© Australian Ballooning Federation Inc

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