The Ins and Outs of Compass Correction

The latest video is up: "The Ins and Outs of Compass Correction"!

Lots of students struggle with compass correction questions, most often getting confused with the difference between Heading and Track.

This video presents a way of systematically working through each step of the compass correction questions, including the conversion from Heading to Track, to arrive at the correct answer every time.

Heading vs. Track


A diagram of an aircraft is displayed with the Heading labelled in green
An aircraft's heading

Heading is a straightforward enough concept - the aeroplane's heading is where its nose is pointing. The nose is pointing East? The heading is 090°. The nose is pointing South? The heading is 180°. The heading vector can always be drawn onto an aeroplane diagram, even if you don't know the value of the heading - just draw a straight line from the aircraft's nose in line with the longitudinal axis.


A top-down diagram of an aircraft is displayed with heading, track, drift, and wind marked on in different colours
An aircraft's heading and track

The track is the result of the heading's interaction with the wind; it is the path which the aircraft makes over the ground as it travels through the air. Imagine the aeroplane has a pencil fixed to its underneath which draws a line on the Earth's surface as it flies. The line it draws is the track.

In conditions of no wind the heading and the track will be the same, but as the wind begins to blow it will push the aeroplane with it, altering the track even as the heading remains the same.

A top-down diagram of an aeroplane on which the heading and track are depicted as being the same due to there being no wind
In zero wind, the heading and track are the same

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