Sometimes nothing seems to go as planned. Even after you’ve spent time planning a flight, something like the weather or another factor can change your plans. That’s okay.
In fact, that can be part of the fun of flying: learning how to quickly and accurately change your plans and still enjoy the flight. Because you are a VFR pilot with a plotted course and a flight plan you should know where you are at any given time.
You might have just passed over a specific airport identified on your flight path and you can now see a large lake as it appears on your sectional chart. That means you know where nearby airports are, about how far away they are, and how the winds will affect your landing decision.
Whether you’re flying by dead reckoning, ground-based navigation radios, or GPS, you still should use pilotage navigation as a backup.
If the problem is minor, such as you’re not sure of your exact position, you can call a flight service station or other communication resource and get your position.
If your problem is mechanical (very unlikely because you did such a great preflight inspection!) you can use your emergency checklist and advanced-maneuvers training to get you down safely.
Flying can be boring sometimes, especially on cross-country trips, so smart pilots use that time to play “what if …” “What if my engine went out right now; where would I land?” “What if an aircraft crossed my path?” “What if I hit a large bird?” “What if I drank too much coffee before takeoff?” Knowing what to do before it happens will help you fly safer.