Pilot's tip of the week

What About Paper Charts?


Subscriber question:

 "Just curious: Can you still buy paper charts?" — Willey R.


“Yes, paper charts are still available if you know where to look. FBOs and flight schools don’t order many charts these days, but if you just need a current version of a local VFR sectional, IFR chart or Chart Supplement book, it’s worth checking to see if they have it. These commonly used publications still have some demand, especially with pilots-in-training.

The more reliable source is online. The FAA is still the publisher and lists a few vendors on their website, but they’re easiest to get through outlets like Sporty’s Pilot Shop, My Pilot Store, or even Amazon. The aviation websites offer paper products as individual purchases or by subscription.

Paper can be a great way to view charts not included in your Electronic Flight Bag subscriptions. Need IFR enroute charts for Alaska or the Caribbean? How about something more obscure like Low Altitude Planning for Pacific and Atlantic routes? They’re available in paper, along with Sectional charts, Terminal Area Charts, IFR Enroute charts, Planning charts, and Helicopter charts. Paper is also great for non-U.S. charts if you’re making a trip. And if you do want the digital version of these charts, along with IFR approaches, Minimum Instrument Altitude charts, or Minimum Vectoring Altitude charts, you can download them from the FAA. If you’re in training, there’s nothing like a paper chart to learn all the minute details that can be harder to examine in the digital version.

Besides training, why else would you want paper charts? A sectional is a battery-free backup if your EFB runs out of juice. I also like using them for airplane rides.  Many passengers find the paper sectionals to be a fun way to follow landmarks on a scenic flight. And if you’re flying youth at a Young Eagles event, handing the kid a sectional and pointing out where you’re going will definitely pique the interest level. It’s just fine if the charts are expired, so save the ones you have.

And they always make great posters for the hangar wall or office.”

Do you carry any paper charts with you, even if just for backup?

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