1 in 60 rule

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1 in 60 rule can be used to determine the track error and the correction angle.

The 1 in 60 rule is a rule of thumb used in air navigation, and states that if a pilot has travelled sixty miles then an error in track of one mile is approximately a 1° error. It is based on the small-angle approximation. In reality the error is 0.96° but this difference is trivial in air navigation. It is hard to fly more accurately than within about 2° of tolerance. The error increases with the angle but again remains within flying tolerances for any error that is likely to occur in the air. Because this rule is used by single pilots with many other tasks to perform, often in a basic aircraft without the aid of an autopilot, it must be a simple process that can be performed in their heads. This rule is also used by air traffic controllers to quickly determine how much to turn an aircraft for separation purposes.


If a pilot is flying a leg of 120 miles and finds after travelling 60 miles that they are two miles to the right of track then a correction of 4° to the left (2° to fly parallel to the intended track and another 2° to bring them to their target) will bring them to their destination.

If a pilot is flying a 120 mile leg and finds after 30 miles that they are two miles left of track then they have flown 4° left of their intended track, i.e.

2 × 60/30

left of track. Changing the heading four degrees right will now bring them to parallel the intended track. At that point they still have 90 miles to their next waypoint. They are thus two miles to the left of that and thus the waypoint is 4/3 of a degree (2 × 60/90) to the right or approximately 1° right. The pilot then adds these two to get 5° and flies 5° right of their previous heading.

You can also use the 1 in 60 rule to approximate your distance from a VOR by flying 90 degrees to a radial and timing how long it takes to fly 10 degrees. The time in seconds divided by 10 is roughly equal to the time in minutes from the station at your current speed. ——