Aviation Info and Links

Revised May 6, 2014

As I went through ground school on the way to passing the FAA written private pilot's exam, I learned about a variety of aviation topics that I have been very useful to me as I continue to write about aerial wildland fire fighting, I present you with some links, by topic that I hope you will find useful. In the course of writing about some recent flights with my flight instructors, I added more references.

Air space

Airspace for Everyone is one of the documents in the Safety Advisor Series from the Airplane Owner's and Pilot's Association's (AOPA) Air Safety Foundation (ASF). In the short Airspace for Everyone document (SA02) you will learn about the different classes of airspace in the U.S., as mandated by the Federal Aviation Regulations. Illustrations accompany the text. I think that this is a good place to start if you want an overview of airspace in the U.S.

The ASF's Airspace Guide, shows how different airspace is designated on NACO's aeronautic charts. I referred to this often when I was learning about how airspace is depicted on aero charts, and continue to use this as a resource.

I recently came upon a nice article on Class B (bravo) airspace on the AvWeb.com. This article is from the AOPA publication, Flight Training (April 1998), reprinted by AvWeb with AOPA's permission.

Wikipedia has an entry on the different classes of airpspace, it may be found here..

Aeronautical Charts

There are two sources for aeronautical charts. Members of the AOPA have access to online flight planning tools using Jeppesen Charts. As an AOPA member, I have accessed Jeppesen charts through AOPA's online flight planning tools. I myself am more familiar with the aeronautical charts published by the National Charting Office (NACO) of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While I have some very limited experience using Jeppesen charts as an AOPA member, I am not even remotely in a position to speak to the differences between Jeppesen and NACO charts. All I can say is that I understand that are differences between the two charts, and that pilots tend to prefer one set of charts over another.

I am most familiar with NACO sectional and terminal charts, used for flying under visual flight rules (VFR). For a description of these and other charts, see part 7 of a NASA tutorial on aviation navigation. Here you will learn a little about the enroute charts used when flying under instrument flight rules (IFR).

Moving onto part 8 of NASA's aviation navigation tutorial brings you to an interactive page on the symbols used on aeronautical charts.

Sky Vector has free access to aeronautical charts, but they caution that they should not be used for navigation. This is a good place to go to get an idea of what an aeronautical chart looks like. Clicking on the charts icon on the upper left of their page brings you to a map of the U.S. just click on the type of chart you are interested in (for example sectional) and then the part of the country.

For the complete scoop on all of NACO's aeronautical charts, there is the freely available FAA Aeronautical Chart User's Guide (12th edition).

The FAA makes digital versions of the NACO charts available for GPS devices. I have been able to read these files in my pdf viewer software. The files are very large. To access these charts go here. Other digital products from the FAA, including terminal charts, and helicopter charts may be accessed from this page. I last accessed and download a sectional chart on June 20, 2013.

Airports and facilities

There is a guide called the Airport/Facility Directory published by NACO that provides information about the various airports in the U.S. You may access it online here. If you are interested in all the airports in your particular state, including smaller general aviation airports, this directory might be a place to start. I takes a little getting used to. Here you will find the airport code, contact information for the airport, services available and the like.

For information about airports in the U.S, around the world, there is Flight Aware. Flight Aware might take some getting used to if you are a first time user and if you aren't familiar with airport codes. I don't know about you, but I found it difficult to search for an airport on Flight Aware by entering the name of the city and state. In addition to information about airports, you can also track a specific commercial flight, and track flights.

You might find it easier to use flight aware for information about a specific airport if you know the code for the airport you are interested in. Here is a website where you can find the code for many "major" world airports . What is an airport code? For example, the code for Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, NJ is "EWR".

Finding airport codes for the smaller airports in the U.S., including the small "general aviation" airports requires another source. A friend told me about this site where you can access codes for all US Airports by State: US ICAO Location Finder.

Alternatively, you can go to wikipedia and typing in "list of airports in your state", where you substitute the State you are interested in for "your state".

If you are interested in airport codes for the larger airports, you can get the codes for class B airports in the US and class C airports in the US. Most, but not all of the airports served by the commercial airlines in the US are either class B or C airports.


For a brief overview of weather written with pilots in mind, check the ASF safety advisory, Weatherwise Safety Advisory.

For more detailed information on weather for pilots, the ASF has a few interactive courses: ceilings and visibility, air masses and fronts, precipitation and icing, thunder storms and ATC. They may be found here. You may have to register for a free account to take these courses.

Radio Communications, Controllers, etc.

To read about flight following services see this Avweb article.

From Pilot Friend on the phonetic alphabet used in aviation radio communications, go here.

Pilot Friend has a nice short article on controller to pilot communications on this webpage. It is written with pilots flying under instrument flight rules (IFR) in mind, but aspects of controller to pilot communications apply to VFR pilots.

NASA - Virtual Sky

NASA through their Virtual Sky webpage has links to other tutorials. I have already mentioned their aviation navigation tutorial.

If you want to learn a little about the four forces of flight, the work of wings, parts of an airplane and other topics in basic aeronautics check out Virtual Skies tutorial on basic aeronautics.

Virtual Skies also has tutorials on weather, air traffic management, communications, airport design, as well as other links that I am not listing here.

AIM, FAR, FAA Publications

Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). There is a lot of info in here (over 400 pages), and can be a little overwhelming at first. It is published in hard form with the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR).

Federal Aviation Regulations. The regs. I only refer to the online version when I can't find what I am looking for in my hard copy.

Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA), I have a now dog eared copy that I picked up in ground school. It tends to be a little technical at times. And there is a new appendix on runway incursions in the PHAK written in April 2012, that will be used on Private Pilot knowledge test questions effective November 2012.

Airport/Facility Directory contains a variety of information for airports, navigational aids, and other pertinent information. Files are selected by state. If you aren't familiar with the airport id's, select all airport id's and then go down the list and find the airport by town, in addition you may want to download the legend and supplemental files.

Pilots/Controllers Glossary from the AIM.

Aviation Weather Services, FAA Advisory Circular AC 00-45G

FAA Handbooks and Manuals. Links to other documents you can download from the FAA.