How To Read A VFR Sectional Chart – MzeroA Flight Training


hey everyone Jason shopper here of m0a
calm and myself and the mga dot-com team are so proud of our new private pilot
online groundswell it’s me coming out very soon depending on when you’re
actually watching this it may already be out now a lot of love has gone into this
from animations to great in-flight footage to awesome in studio footage as
well and I want to start sharing with you some sneak peeks into the course and
inside some of my favorite videos and the team’s favorite videos as well so
this one is a longer video than a typical Emma’s orient comm video but it
takes you through and helps you get a better understanding of VFR sectional
charts and if you love this video you’re gonna love all the courses and all the
videos inside the new online ground school there’s going to be a link in the
video description below or above this video for a 2-week no-strings-attached
free trial of our course whichever course you want private instrument
commercial doesn’t matter that you can check out there so we’ll let the ground
school video play and afterwards go ahead and take action on that free trial
this learn more about VFR a sectional charts you can consider this lesson
really like map reading for pilots this lesson by the way is gonna be
significantly longer than some of the previous lessons we’ve gone through it
also includes a link for a download of our VFR charts symbology underneath of
this video so go ahead and take a moment to download that so you haven’t you
could have it separately on the iPad it might be a bit much to print it’s quite
a big document but on an iPad or even in a separate window would benefit you
because this is something you’re gonna reference through the rest of lesson 10
now now it doesn’t matter by the way if you intend to use paper or digital
charts in the cockpit this symbology is the same so you need to know this
information either way this lesson builds on the
previous lesson of airspace as we put it all together now on the sectional chart
this is a foundational lesson I guarantee you’ll be asked on
aeronautical charts on every checkride you take in addition to
the knowledge tests let’s begin with the facts you need to know for starters
visual flight rules or VFR sectional charts are the primary means of
navigation we use them to find airports avoid special use airspace find control
tower frequencies determine what airspace we’re entering we use them to
find out what frequency to contact the tower on or to get the automated weather
as well there’s a lot of information on these charts and they cover the entire
United States now the VFR sectional charts are valid
for six months on the frontal chart is a date shown when the chart came out and
when it expires it appears on both paper and iPad presentations the digital
charts well so let’s say the VFR sectional chart came out on December
18th it’ll be good until June 18th once has
expired it’s a good idea to take it out of your
flight bag assuming you’re using paper charts right across bold letters for
ground training only because you can still use it for practice but we don’t
want to navigate off an expired chart because things change radio frequencies
even airspace can change you don’t want to be flying with bad information the
charts are named by the way for the largest airports really within its
boundaries on the further chart there’s a map showing the continental United
States with a chart you’re holding actually shade out so you can kind of
see which sectional chart we have now a sectional chart covers a good bit of
airspace so when the chart is unfolded it expands about five feet across so you
want to practice fold in an unfolding so it doesn’t take over the cockpit as well
when the chart is folded properly one side has a designation plates are in the
name of the sectional the issue and the expiration dates and the other side the
legend showing the symbology similar to what I had you download now if you’re
using those paper charts you want to make time to purchase that new chart
when the new one comes out with iPads it’s even easier though you just
download the new one you’ll get a push notification and says sign it download
the new chart so let’s know take a look at what the FA calls the VFR chart
user’s guide I recommend you download this also a link
that is well as you can download free PDF from the FAA what you’re looking at
here is the symbology for the airports that you’ll see on the charts now you
can follow along I say use the arrow to really point out what we’re talking
about this opportunity to make sure this is plane in full screen so you can
really see everything now let’s start with the basics on the chart blue-blue
airports are for towered airports magenta that Airport is magenta is for a
non towered airport on the sectional chart will see tab marks on the circle
designating the airport now those tabs that you see around that Airport tell us
that there services available at the airport now more often than not this
means fuel is available at the airport at least part of the time tabs around
usually mean fuel available now when the runway is actually longer
than eight thousand sixty nine feet it’s shown with lines drawing the runway out
rather than fit it in the circle you ask why eight thousand sixty nine
feet that won’t be on a test or anything like that this is more just your fun
fact for the day how they print it based on pixels they print it to scale so a
smaller runway looks smaller in that circle larger runway it looks bigger
that circle so it’s somewhat to scale well based on their scale a runway
that’s greater than eight thousand sixty nine feets using their scale wouldn’t
fit inside that circle so then break out of the circle and just physically draw
the runway there now continuing to look at that Airport the star on top of the
circle there that tells us the airport has a rotating beacon now rotating
beacon is gonna help us identify the airport at night let’s move on now to
airport grouping information now this is the detailed information on the airports
that’s going to appear on the sectional chart over the right side of the page
you had the legend that’s gonna walk you through everything example F SS that
means there is a flight service station there at the airport the flight service
station is where we get our weather briefings the flight
service station also processes our flight plans beneath that we see the
phrase no s VFR which stands for special VFR no special VFR meaning that is
flying in limited visual conditions that’s not allowed that airport most
likely because the airspace just too congested to allow something like
special VFR we see the name of the airport we also see the common traffic
advisory frequency we can tell that because we have the letters C T next to
that frequency well that tells us there is a control tower in this case it reads
one one eight two point three which really tells us the tower frequency is
one one eight point three zero right they drop that zero off at the end
they’re all tower frequencies you need to know have five digits it’s a the zero
is kind of it’s left off because it’s implied sort of like how we access a
website no one types in 10 C of the
lights if we see the letters RP next to the runway
that tells us turns in the pattern for a particular runway R to the right because
our P stands for a right pattern you can learn more about that in the US charts
supplement to see which runways or or when that applies here now let’s take a
look at how to identify electronic means of navigation they’re gonna appear on
the sectional chart VHF omnidirectional radios more commonly known as vor s are
identified with this blue compass rose and rectangular box that gives you the
frequency to actually listen to the vor the actual vor itself kind of looks like
a hex bolt as you can see and if they have dist
measuring equipment DME they have that hex bolt in the box as well now if a
Vortech if it’s considered a vortac which is essentially an old military vor
this symbol is shaped kind of more like a roman shield in a way some vo ours are
located on airports others are set off away from airports we’re learning more
about vor s and navigating to vor s in a future lesson but this is just to
introduce them how they appear on the sectional chart now we have something
called victor airways those are like our highways in the sky you learn about
those a few lessons back remember they travel from vor to vor vor s by the way
have a five-digit frequency the zero again is always left off where’s nice to
kind just know it’s there just like with our voice frequencies now the name of
the vor and the Morris code identifier that series of dots and dashes is also
given that you don’t need to know Morris code to be a pilot here and you’re gonna
listen to them we’re gonna talk more about that when we get to the vor so
you’ll be able to tell a difference in a dot and a dash I promise now continuing
on here on the right side we see these magenta and really kinda looks like a
flower in a way and there’s a three number designation well these flowers
are actually symbology for what’s known as a non-directional beacon we’re gonna
call it an NDB now ndb’s just being honest with you our 1930s technology its
modulation radio and it’s very very quickly being phased out right it’s kind
of like payphones and everything else as technology changes we face now it’s so
much so the FAA is actually said that when these ndb’s break we’re no longer
fixing them no one’s making parts to fix them anymore so slowly over time these
will be completely faded out now to use an NDB in the airplane your airplane
must have an automatic direction finder which is in a DF your aircraft may not
even have an ADF so ndb’s may be of little or no you
to you we’re still gonna talk about them though in a future lesson now airspace
decoding is key for the sectional charts it’s going to be the same across your
sectional chart as well as a tack chart which we’ll talk about in a future
lesson here you’ll learn about that one we’ll read about some of the others here
let’s look at our airspace this should be a quick recap Class B airspace is
shown in blue class Charlie airspace that’s solid magenta
line class Delta airspace dashed blue line we just learned about that in that
previous lesson those improper fractions well that’s
associate with our airspace dimensions as well class Eko airspace and was that
tough one we covered a little while ago well let’s also depict it so we can
identify whether it starts at 700 or 1200 based on our domestic enroute or
class echo transition areas here now also class echo airspace but still those
lines those blue lines those highways in the sky
remember those those our victor airways and therefore our IFR traffic and I know
we’re flying VFR but even on a VFR day there’s still someone out there flying
IFR and operating on those IFR routes we wouldn’t want to be vigilant our
cross-country flights because we’re just flying there for fun but someone might
be on those highways in the sky so important to note when we’re flying past
that we don’t want to be you know the the guy who’s playing frog or going
across these these highways in the skies without looking at knowing what’s coming
here and speaking of things that can hurt you by the way here’s some
symbology we really need to know for special use airspace to help you avoid
it this airspace by the way is color coded and it really spells it out for
you prohibited airspace restricted warning
areas these are all shown with these blue hash marks now magenta hash marks
are used for alert areas and moas or military operation areas the solid thin
Magette the line here that’s our mode C veil
which we’ve spoken about and also has some frequencies around it the
controlling agency for any airspace if appropriate to contact them now that
we’re aware of the samal adji let’s take a look at an actual sectional chart and
practice decoding the information we’re heading to the Ocala Airport where I do
a lot of flying Ocala International Taylor field then the three-letter
identifier Oh C F by looking at the sectional chart we
can see that the Ocala airport is Class D airspace Class D airspace has a
control tower we know that because it’s two picked in blue we can also read the
control tower frequency is one one nine point two five the star next to that
tells us the tower is part time the letter is C in the circle tells us the
frequency for the tower is also the common traffic advisory frequency
meaning when that part time tower closes I still broadcast like a pilot
controlled Airport on that frequency we can also see the automated terminal
information system or the ADIS frequency it’s the frequency it gives us our
weather beneath that the number 90 it tells us the airport feel elevation is
90 feet above sea level that’s important because very often
traffic pattern altitudes a thousand feet above airport elevation so in this
case we’d be flying the traffic pattern at 1,100 feet 1,100 feet MSL the letter
L with the asterisks tells us there’s a lighting limitation it could be some
experimental lighting the FAA is testing but more often than not we know it as
pilot controlled lighting which means you actually use your microphone switch
to activate the lights and the lighting intensity the next number 74
tells us the longest runway at the Ocala Airport measures seven thousand four
hundred feet and the last number one two three dot zero is our Unicom frequency
Unicom stands for universal can education frequency which we would use
to contact the FBO the fixed-base operator on the field to request fuel
now we can learn a lot about the region we’re flying in by studying that
sectional chart we see a lot of magenta circles on the sectional chart which
tells me there’s a lot of pilot controlled non-towered airports in the
area several of them by the way are private airports those are indicated
with the letter R in the circle the R stands for restricted most often the
private airports are grass strips and you cannot land at a private Airport
without prior permission unless it’s an emergency
and you have to be ready to explain yourself when you land we can see we
have a military operations area and a restricted area near the Ocala Airport
this tells me we’re likely to see some military traffic in and out of the area
remember they are a lot faster flying than we are so it’ll be extra careful
when operating near their airspace if the MOA or the restricted area is in
use or hot well we don’t fly in a hot restricted area you can fly in a hot
military operations area but it’s on a you know you decide kind of basis you
cannot fly in restricted airspace when it’s hot but I could fly through a
military operations area with my head on the swivel when it is active now when we
start doing our night flights this will be important the sectional chart shows
us cities and towns below us and they’re actually shown in yellow here this is
important because on those night flights you’ll be amazed at how accurate the
shapes of those cities appear because when it’s dark the lit outline of the
city is what’s prominent in the more rural areas you’ll see the name of the
community next to in a circle next to it here here we can see Candler the town
there’s this tiny town actually depending on what part of the country
you’re in the rural areas stand out because if there’s a number of large
barge or grain silos or farming right like if we’re a Midwest farming
community or Pacific Northwest small timber towns look like
combination of Matchbox cars and blue tarps right well the white line here
tells us that there’s a terminal area chart in the Ocala area as well like I
said we’re gonna learn more about what that terminal area chart means in the
next lesson here the sectional chart shows us the frequency box for the Ocala
vortac that frequency to receive the vor is one 13.7 zero or Channel 84 if we’re
flying in our military aircraft which uses a different radio the three level
letter identifier for the vor and the Morse code which we use to identify it
so we before we can really trust it for navigation to make sure it’s actually
working the number on the top left side of the box
it’s the frequency for Gainesville radio this is the folks we open and close our
flight plan with now those upside-down V shapes on the sectional chart well those
are obstructions they could be water towers or cell phone towers you’re just
simply TV antennas the top number shows us the height of the object the number
of beneath in parentheses shows the height above the ground you can remember
this by thinking it this way the top number is what your altimeter will read
if you hit the top of it the bottom number is how far you’ll fall
MSL versus AGL right now this is a quick shot here of the class Bravo airspace
over Orlando we know this is class Bravo why because of those heavy blue lines
Bravo means busy we need permission to enter the airspace
we need to hear the magic words cleared in the class Bravo airspace we can see
the shelves of the Bravo marked with our improper fractions we can also see there
more obstructions located a little east of the airport those towers with a
little lightning bolts coming off them indicate the obstruction has a light at
the top of it for your homework get a hold on a sectional chart and if you
don’t have a current one you can use the chart users guide or I’ll give you some
websites here in a bit and go through it and see if you can correctly identify
things on the if you don’t have access to a chart you
go to a website like skyvector dot-com skyvector com go to your local area and
you can see VFR sectional charts for your local area and start to find some
symbols you don’t realize and then you go ahead and head down and look at the
chart users guide look at the the legend look at the symbols and see what you’re
going to find and learn and discover in your local area don’t trust me you’re
going to want to spend a lot of time with the sectional chart I mean when
you’re on the ground or whether you’re in the cockpit you want to spend the
time on the ground because in the cockpit if you have that map out all
five feet of it right it can be a little daunting to try to learn everything here
whether you choose to use paper or an iPad I want you to become a master of
this here you’re hurling to the sky at a hundred
knots I don’t want you fumbling around with a chart or with an iPad I want you
to master up on the ground the next lesson real look at the tack chart which
is kind of like a blown-up version of busier airspace on a sectional chart I
wrote the Private Pilot blueprint with the intention of if I could do my flight
training over what I wish someone would have told me I want that book to be
yours for free all I ask is that you pay ship it visit Private Pilot blueprint
comm to get your free copy


17 Responses

  1. Jonny Sprague

    July 30, 2019 5:07 pm

    ADF's are great for listening to the Indians games on freq. 1100 In The Giant area around Cleveland that is AM 1100 covers.

  2. the geek

    July 30, 2019 5:34 pm

    I can't find 123.0. Where is that thing located? Love the videos Jason. Hope your plane is going to be ok, broke my heart seeing that.

  3. Darren Schehl

    July 30, 2019 6:11 pm

    Great videos, also nice to meet you at AirVenture. Sent link to friend who's in need of ground school training.

  4. FastIndy

    July 30, 2019 6:27 pm

    FAA Aeronautical Chart User's Guide:
    From this website:

  5. pilot blue

    July 30, 2019 6:32 pm

    As a Canadian pilot living near the border this is a great help. US VFR charts are so close in nature but different. This clears up a lot. You might post a Canadian VFR chart showing the subtle differences. It is always a treat to visit and experience American hospitality.

  6. SidebandSamurai

    July 30, 2019 10:59 pm

    Hi Jason. Loved the video. One thing with the video I had a problem with was the symbology part of the video. You were taking about the symbols but you did not put an arrow or a square around the symbol you were taking about. So as a new pilot I was a little lost. The second part where you showed an example of a chart was fantastic. You highlighted the symbols you were talking about and it was made more clear

  7. Andy K

    August 1, 2019 5:30 pm

    Hi Jason-excellent video (where's 123.0?). Here's a word about MOA's and Restricted areas. If you fly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas the path is 'strewn' with all sorts of military flight test areas. In a seminar I attended a test pilot said they do steep vertical as well as horizontal extreme performance testing. An F-18 or the like can climb (or descend) 25-30,000 feet in a matter of seconds. You won't see him at this velocity. A GA pilot has to be 'talking and squawking' constantly through these areas to stay safe.

  8. Alex Works

    August 14, 2019 10:21 pm

    Hahaha! Looking for VFR sectional chart videos I just watched the the remote pilot 101 video. Good stuff on both these channels!👍🏽

  9. Eric Santana

    December 17, 2019 6:28 am

    It is possible if you can make a video of how I can understand what the control tower is telling me to do From the moment I start the engine? I'm sorry I'm a student I'm starting


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