CFI Topics

What The Chart Tells us

Lesson 2

In addition to the obvious information on airspace, terrain, roads, rivers, and airways, the chart has invaluable – but more subtle - information that can be “lifted” if you take the time to understand it and then pass it on to your students. When we know the “why” of something we have a better chance of not only retaining it, but an increased ability to explain it to our budding pilots.

Most pilots look at the VFR chart as a tool to be used for flight in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) and that is in fact, its primary purpose. But, what if we tell our students that the VFR chart has a lot of IFR information that can be very useful to them when planning their VFR flights? “What”, you say, “why should I confuse my private pilot student by teaching him or her IFR stuff when they may not be ready”?

Because, what the pilot can learn from the chart is where there is likely to be traffic operating under Instrument Flight Rules and by knowing that, he or she will be a safer pilot. For example: The faded magenta tint bands that define Class E airspace beginning at 700’ AGL - See Figure 1; or the dashed magenta line that defines Class E airspace at the surface - See Figure 2; means there is an instrument approach associated with the primary airport within these airspace boundaries. A pilot can use this information to be more diligent about looking for traffic and also be reminded that VFR weather minimums apply. You can not fly VFR in controlled airspace without VFR weather minimums or a SVFR clearance.

Figure 1

Figure 2

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