Ep. 34: How to read a VFR Sectional Chart | Basic Chart/Map Knowledge


Hey guys, Jon from Fly8ma.com and today we’re going to be going over the basics of VFR sectional charts. Wo we have our VFR sectional chart
pulled up here we’re looking at the Venice Airport and let’s just look at
some basic things that we see around here. So the first thing we notice is all
these different shaded areas. We have some yellow around here and we have this
light greenish around here. Well the yellow just means congested areas or
areas with lots of buildings and homes, basically cities. Easy to spot at night.
They’re typically all lit up easy to spot during the daytime too. This is
all swampland in here. That’s what all these little tiny little sprout things
are. That just is a symbol that means many lakes and then all in here is going
to be built up with lots of roads and houses as we look over here we see
magenta Airport in Venice Airport and magenta and that means it’s a non
towered airport. We can look over here and see Punta Gorda it’s blue that means
it is a towered Airport. We notice the Class D ring the blue dashed line here
class Delta ring and we notice this hazy magenta ring around here haze image
entering denoting that the Class C airspace comes all the way down to 700
feet here where everywhere else out here Class E airspace is all at 1200 feet and
it’s Class G below that. So at Venice it’s Class G airspace from the surface
on up to 700 feet and then above that Class E airspace out here Class G from
the ground up to 1200 and then Class E airspace. We can see here we’ve got let’s
use Punta Gorda for an example there Class D airspace this blue ring goes up
to 2500 feet so 2500 feet msl and so far at say 3,000 feet msl and we’re above
their airspace were clear of the class Delta we can look here and we can read
that this is for the Punta Gorda Airport and they identify or for Punta Gorda is
PGD. They have a control tower CT and that frequency is one to one. Point zero
has a star there meaning that that’s a part time
control tower at about 10:00 p.m. that control tower closes and we could check
that time in our AFD or airport facility directory, that little green booklet, or
on your iPad that’ll tell you what time the tower hours of operations are. Then
we have this little blue symbol here next to all this and what that means is when
the tower closes the seat a for common traffic advisory frequency is going to
be one to one point zero. If we come back to Venice over here we notice that this
seat a frequency is one to two seven two five. There’s no control tower in Venice
so it’s just one to two seven twenty five all day long and all night long.
Over here we have an ASOS an automated surface observation station at Punta
Gorda to get weather information from that frequency is one three five point
six seven five. So we would dial that frequency into our comm radio the left
side of the panel typically to either talk to the tower or listen to the a
sauce. The field elevation is twenty-six feet above sea level.We have lights at
the airports over coming in there at night it’s lighted but it’s got a little
star next to that aisle and what that means is it’s um lit part time or
lighting limitations exist is the technical term lighting limitations
exist what those lighting limitations typically are is well the lights turn
off and to turn back on you’ll have to click your mic three times five times or
seven times within five seconds and by clicking the microphone making that
pop-pop-pop sound frequency it’ll turn the lights back on.
Three times low five times medium seven clicks four high. The longest runway we
have available at Punta Gorda is 7,200 feet we could look over here at Venice
and notice the longest runway we have is five thousand feet. The one two two nine
seven five frequency down here there’s not a scene next to its not an a sauce
frequency what that is is the Unicom frequency. So that frequency is what we
could use to contact the FBO when we’re 20 miles out and ask them to have a
rental car ready for us or ask them you know what the price of fuel is or any
sort of services you need from the FBO you would contact him on that frequency.
And same thing in Venice the FBO you can see that the if you also use this as the
Unicom frequency as well as the seat typically towered airports don’t want
you calling over tower frequency for things like rental cars and stuff like
that so they have a separate frequency. Therefore that we can notice here that
we have these little dashed lines coming from our circle we have them at Venice
as well and then we notice that this is just perfectly round here at Coral Creek.
What those little squares are, are little lines coming off there it denotes that
there’s services available at the airport. Typically that the airport has
fuel or maintenance services available. So if you’re looking for a place to land
you wouldn’t want to go here. That’s private anyways we can see Pvt means
private but we could go to LaBelle, we could go to Punta Gorda, we could go to
Venice. So we could expect to find some fuel there not to say that it’s open
24/7 but during the day you could expect to find a fuel pump somewhere there. We
also see at Punta Gorda we have this little star here. We’ve got another star
over in Venice. Those stars mean that there is a rotating beacon in service
from sunset to sunrise all night long. So we’ll see how white and a green
flash as we’re flying towards the airport. It’s like a lighthouse but for
airplanes and so that’s a lighted rotating beacon on the airport. They also
typically turn that beacon on during the daytime when the weather’s below VFR so
if you see it going at noon or 1:00 o’clock and it’s bright daylight outside
probably means the ceilings awful low or visibility is very low. How we’re going
to use this sectional chart navigate is we’re going to identify landmarks. This
whole idea of a VFR sectional chart is that it’s visual in nature. So VFR
sectional: all visual. Well we had some great visual identifiers. We have a
highway running into another big highway interstate. Here we can see Interstate
75 there so that’s very easy to see that intersection there we’ve got towers that
show up to let us know there’s towers in the area and these are the heights of
the towers 330 feet MSL 601 feet MSL 586 above sea above ground level rather 601
feet above sea level. So it looks to me like the ground if we did some simple
math there the ground is 15 feet above sea level. Here we’ve got another Tower
269 feet MSL. We’ve got a big tower up here and they change the symbol for the
big tower. They make it 17 49 and if it’s over a thousand feet tall its
this taller tower all these little TPS are just a thousand feet or less, so when
we see this big tall symbol here 1750 foot that’s a tall tower you’re going to
want to be probably thousand feet above that thing to clear it and be nearly
3,000 feet just to clear a tower and we can see here that the ground elevation
in that area is still less than 100 feet. So it pretty close to sea level still
there. We also see some rivers here we could use to identify in some bridges. Bridges are great identifiers as well as some passes. Wwe can see where we’d have a
big pass there. We have Stump pass here. We don’t see those names on the chart we
just know that from living in the local area but it even denotes all these
little islands for us another little bridge here. So very easily identifiable
things. Another pass up here so when you’re along the coastline or you’re
really when you’re flying anywhere you can always find a river and a road that
intersect intersections are great to identify yourself intersecting roads
here we have railroads these little things with the hash marks across though
I guess that’s supposed to be their version of railroad ties. so railroad
pass them through the town of Arcadia so we could probably find a railroad follow that into the town we’ll see all the buildings around with swamp land all
around. Look just to the south east of there and we’ll find the airport. So very
easily identifiable things is what you’re looking for in the sectional
chart we even see some different airspace over here some MOA’s which
we’ll get into later in another video. Some military operations areas and
restricted airspace and also we’ll take a look here at class charlie airspace.
That’s a solid magenta ring so class Charl airspace around Saracen airport
here it’s got a little bit of echo airspace that comes out to the surface
right there and we have bravo airspace all around the Tampa area and this is the
Tampa class bravo. Several rings kind of like an upside down a wedding cake shape
that we talk about in our airspace videos which we all put some links in
down in the description so you can learn all about class ABCD in E airspace as
well as G airspace there’s no F airspace. Other little things to note on this
sectional chart, lakes are great things to reference but they’re not going to
put every little lake on there so smaller lakes probably won’t be on there. If
it’s a half mile or a mile across you can expect to see it on the chart
probably. We’ll also take a little quick look back here to our airport symbology and
we notice here we have rp13 what does rp13 mean? Means right pattern for
runway one three and we have this little depiction here of the runways of Venice
and now this isn’t totally current we don’t actually have runway nine two seven
anymore it’s been closed for many years they still kind of have it depicted on
the chart there but we would check the AFD and a current AFD would let us know
what runways we do in fact have, this is just a rough depiction. And we would know
runway one three heading this way is right traffic. Where all the other
runways like three one are left traffic. We can also look over here and the last
thing we’ll talk about on the sectional chart is our VOR, so we see this compass
rose ring around this Class D airspace let’s get some other class tiers
basically see what one looks like without a VOR. So we find a nice little
Class D Airport over here on the other coast. We can see they don’t have that
compass rose they don’t have a VOR on the airport even though it is a Class
D Airport with a ceiling of 2,500 feet msl control tower one two zero point
four so let’s go ahead and look here at Punta Gorda Airport and we’ll see we
have this little dot that’s the location of the vor on the field and then this
compass rose letting us know that we have a vor there in here vor frequency
Punta Gorda vor the identifier for it the Morse code identifier for it which
we’ll talk about later and the frequency you would dial into your nav radio
typically the nav radios are on the right side of the instrument panel and
you’ll dial in 110.2 and that would give you the Punta Gorda vor then
you can turn up your nav radio volume and listen to the Morse code identifier
if you want. You could contact St. Petersburg radio, St. Petersburg flight
station on 122.025 we’ll talk about flight service later on in our
course, but that’s the basics of our VFR sectional. VFR sectional visual reference.
We have some railroad tracks. We have we have rivers and we have big
interstates we can use all to identify where we’re at along with the towns and
cities other airports make great checkpoints and of course our barrier
islands are very helpful as well. Hey guys, thanks so much for watching and
thank you so much for sharing us on Facebook Twitter and all the other
social media sites. if you have any questions about the video at all just
leave them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as
possible. Be sure to give us a thumbs up on our video and you can subscribe to us
to keep up with all our latest episodes right over here on the right. Also check
out some of these other helpful videos below and remember if you can’t fly
every day then Fly8ma.com We’ll see you next time!

85 thoughts on “Ep. 34: How to read a VFR Sectional Chart | Basic Chart/Map Knowledge

  1. At first when you pick up a sectional chart you don't understand a single dot but when you see these videos then you get it, I've seen like 5 videos in a row about sectional charts and it becomes easier and easier, thank you Sir

  2. Jon..Seriously…You do explain the subject matter so very well…You cover it all and you keep it simple and detailed…Thank You…
    Willis

  3. Jon…I really enjoy your presentation style…easily understood and detailed…I review this sectional on occasion to update my brain…

    Will mention…I like the way you included on the screen the words used by ATIS (because Atis is not always easily understood during a presentation)

    You do cover it all….

    Willis
    Flying with FLY8MA.com Flight Training

  4. I wanted to review your excellent Sectional Chart Presentation again as a review for my PVT Glider Oral tomorrow…Thanks again Jon…
    Now what do you do it you need that roll? Ha!

  5. Great video. It has helped me while studying for the part 107 UAS Remote Pilot test. Thanks! By the way, I give you a shout out while talking about my experience. https://youtu.be/joq0dq-lagM

  6. finally a video that actually explains something and gets to the point ! you explained more in 11.. mins than this other guys hour and a half video .. thumbs up and subcribed

  7. Nice overview that takes different learning styles into consideration. Some suggestions for additional links especially to add some MEATR and TAF information. While I used the written resources to learn about METAR's and TAF's, these links helped me to become more "fluent" when reading these sources of weather data.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqXlMwp-yQY
    Ground School: How To Decode METARs and TAFs | Part 1 | The Simple Stuff –
    FLY8MA.com Flight Training

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7Q7WmcmYVk&t=20s
    Ground School: How To Decode METARs and TAFs | Part 2 | Thoroughly Explained – FLY8MA.com Flight Training

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPFxbhf2cTA
    Decoding METAR Quiz – Answer Video – MzeroA Flight Training

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9Yoi6SDlAs
    Ground School: Advanced Sectional Chart Knowledge | VFR Map –
    FLY8MA.com Flight Training

  8. Thanks… very helpful, I'm taking my ground classes but my business don't give me much time to read. So… this is how I try to stay on track
    thanks again

  9. Thanks for the video. I am refreshing my knowledge of sectional charts in preparation of a BFR after a 15yr break from flying. Your videos help me recall what I learned years ago. THANKS!

  10. Great video. You first started talking about Venice, I was thinking Cali. Then you mentioned Punta Gorda and I realized you were in Florida! Nice to have a informative local pilot on YouTube.

  11. What is the difference between an airport with a circle filled in (Like Venice) and one that just shows the runways (Like Southwest FL intl)?

  12. Hey guys, AOPA has recently released the "2017 AOPA Flight Training Experience Survey" which allows you to rate and comment on a flight instructor that has assisted you in your aviation education/goals. I completed one for Jon and believe anyone that has used his Youtube or FLY8MA.COM should do the same. The survey is easy and quick to complete and will ask for Jon's name and last four of his CFI #. I have included the link below and the information required to complete the survey. Thanks again!

    First Name: Jon
    Last Name: Kotwicki
    Last Four Certificate # : 8039

    https://aopa.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dcelRtZ2fR1DBsN

  13. How do I see where physical addresses are in relation to the airports, like if I want to fly a drone and want to know where the nearest airports are?

  14. That was AWESOME!!!!! Now, can you redo this same video…but instead look at the airports for the East Coast side of Florida? LOL! Or, just explain how you'd use this very same VFR chart to do a cross country from your West Florida airport to let's say Boca Raton, FL using both I-75 Alligator Alley, or Airport and landmark hopping. Also, how you'd use the VOR at Pahokee if you had to divert or kick out some parachutists.

    Again, GREAT VIDEO. Thumbs up and subscribed!!!!!

  15. Great video and great instruction. You clarified something I struggled with about class E/G within the first minute and a half.

  16. Difficult to see. Should zoom in to GE a clear picture and also slow down the pointer which moves too fast across.

  17. I found this video because I am studying airspace for FAR 103 flight. Noticed you said the yellow area is "congested" areas. The yellow areas depict the ground illumination pattern one might see flying at night. They are NOT an FAA designation of "congested area". This is an important distinction. I say this because there may be paths that an ultralight or powered paraglider can use to come in or out of an area that is solid yellow on the sectional, and there may be areas that are not yellow that are definitely congested and should not be overflown with an aircraft operating under FAR 103.

  18. Hi Jon, thanks for all the videos. 9/22/17 I flew as PIC again for first time since 4/1981. It's been a long time & well worth the wait. Scoured youtube to get up to speed on all that's changed in 40 years. Your channel definitely helped my efforts.

  19. Thank you! That was a real handy dandy tutorial, a lot of informations in short time and you've got another subscriber!

  20. okay, so this has cleared up some things, but where are you getting all the numbers? Lots of numbers written everywhere, not sure what means what

  21. Its hard to tell whether he is saying,"G", or "E", if you are dumb to it all. Why does he not say, "Golf", or "Echo" to eliminate confusion? For some folks, G, D and E sound the same, when pronounced. Maybe that's why they say Golf, Echo and Delta. Other than that, good video. Great teaching voice.

  22. Great information but why do you guys use such a small white arrow for your cursor when you jump around so much and so quickly? I have to replay a lot because I want to keep up with you. Suggestion: use a larger BLACK arrow cursor. Thanks

  23. What are the big blue numbers where the first number is larger than the second (i.e. 19 to the upper right of Venice, 07 out in the water, 10 to the left of Coral Creek)?

  24. I did not pick up where you find the frequency to click 5 times to turn ON the lights. Overall, very helpful. I have been struggling to understand these charts in prep for my knowledge test.

  25. I also did not understand where you "could see that the ground elevation in that area" of the tall tower is under 100 feet.

  26. I aced my Part 107 test today and scored 100% thanks to your videos! THANK YOU and I greatly appreciate the time it took for you to make and post this video! 😀

  27. 1:28 "class e airspace comes down to 700 feet out here, where everywhere else out here class e airspace is all at 1200" where are you getting the altitude? point them out?

  28. Very helpful. Thanks

    However, the presentation would be MUCH improved by changing the mouse pointer to something other than the default, small, white one used here which is difficult to see to the point that, at times, by the time one has located the pointer and what is being presented you have moved on to the next feature on the chart.

  29. Great video. Two suggestions. Venice airport is partially off screen and explanation of airspace in the first couple of minutes would be helpful

  30. My buddy crashed VFR. Think it was a VFR800 iirc. And it happened within minutes of him buying it, total loss of control into a tree lol

    /s (but actually a true story)

  31. Excellent video but sometimes I have trouble finding your mouse while pointing out small spots when your explaining about it

  32. Dude, I cannot thank you enough for your videos. I am getting my sUAS drone cert, and was baffled by these maps. I am an expert navigator with Topo's due to my extensive backpacking experience, and while I understood quite a bit of what was on these inherently, there was a TON I was confused about. This makes it so much easier to understand than just staring at a map legend. Im about to watch every single one of your videos. Seriously. Thanks a ton.

  33. I had three hrs up to now in 172N G-BOIL from Barton nr Manchester and this video is helping me to learning me how to read charts so Ta…

  34. Strongly suggest you hilite your cursor & perhaps as you zoom around it would be good to have an instantanious trailer which closes quickly. Use the word "next"———.

  35. Would you bebelieve me if I said all my questions was answered in the first three minutes and then some. Now I officially know how much more studying I have to do… Wow you got me bro I got too Subscribe!!! VFR Sectional Charts is my weakest so Humbling…
    Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Pilot. You got me wanting to be in the Cockpit For Real!

  36. If you are looking at a sectional chart from Portland in the early 70's. can you use it with todays sectional chart. how much difference would there be with marked airways? would V23 still be in the same position?

  37. Thanks for the video! I'm studying for a Section 107 sUAS license and this is very helpful.

  38. Your the best tutorial you tuber like ever. You voice is perfect, you get straight to the point, you’re fast, you don’t drag it on, it’s great

  39. It's always a pleasure to understand complicated things in aviation from a Calm, cool and intelligent pilot . .
    Thankq brother.

  40. You are one of the several resources I used to pass my test today. On my first ever try. Thank you for all your help. I got a 92%. I could have gotten 100%. I just hurried and didn't read the question correctly. I finished in 36 minutes.

  41. Thank you for posting this video. I wish you can post more about sectional charts, weather minimums, airspace requirements, and the FAA regulations.

  42. 2020 – PASSED 97% Unmanned Aircraft Exam (part 107). Huge shout out to Jon w/ FLY8MA. Wealth of knowledge that definitely helped me pass and I would go as far and say these videos are a must watch. THANK YOU – Jon.

  43. Great videos. -3.32 you say 'click mic' to activate lights. Do you have to be set to tower frequency (121.0) for this to work? – thanks

  44. Question? Is it a good idea to ge hard copies of ALL sectional charts? Like which ones should you get? I know foreflight has them digital but I'm asking as if technology never existed.

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