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Key Takeaways

  • Aviation charts are essential and come in different types for private pilots.
  • The best aviation charts are sectional, terminal area, aeronautical, and approach charts.
  • The best chart for a pilot depends on their experience, location, and preferences.
  • Electronic charts offer advantages such as real-time updates.
  • Each app has unique features that make it stand out amongst the competition.

Aviation charts are essential for safe flights. In this article, we'll discuss the best charts for private pilots and how to use them effectively.

Some of the best aviation charts for private pilots include sectional charts, terminal area charts, and IFR enroute charts. The best chart for you will depend on factors such as your flight experience, location, and preferences.

We're experts in the aviation field and have spent countless hours researching and utilizing various charts and tools to ensure our flights are safe and successful. You can trust our guidance as we provide our top picks backed by credible sources and real-world experience. In this article, we'll navigate through the vast array of available aviation charts and tools, ultimately identifying the best options for private pilots like us.

Table of contents


Types of Aviation Charts

Sectional Charts

When flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), we highly recommend using Sectional Charts. These charts provide a wealth of information such as airports, airspace, and obstacles.

As private pilots, it's essential for us to understand the layout of the airspace we operate in. The detailed depictions of airspace boundaries, terrain features, and navigational aids make Sectional Aeronautical Charts, such as VFR Flyway Planning Charts perfect for our VFR flying adventures.

Terminal Area Charts

For flying in complex airspace near major airports, we generally turn to Terminal Area Charts.

These charts are designed for VFR flights in busy terminal areas, providing a more detailed depiction of critical features like airport layouts, airspace structures, and navigational aids. They're crucial for us to maintain situational awareness in high-traffic environments.

Aeronautical Charts

As pilots, we often use Aeronautical Charts to help plan our flights. These charts include World Aeronautical Charts (WACs), which offer a smaller scale for long-distance flight planning.

While WACs may lack some sectional detail, they still show essential features like cities, towns, roads, railroads, and landmarks, allowing us to plan our routes effectively.

Approach Charts

When flying under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), Approach Charts are indispensable. These charts, also known as approach plates, contain vital information for us to execute instrument approaches safely and accurately.

Precision and non-precision approaches are detailed in these charts, along with final approach fixes, missed approach procedures, and airport charts & diagrams. It's crucial for us, as private pilots, to familiarize ourselves with Approach Charts when conducting IFR flights to ensure the safety of our passengers and ourselves.

Aviation Apps

1. ForeFlight Mobile

ForeFlight Mobile
ForeFlight Mobile


ForeFlight Mobile is an all-in-one app that features moving maps, approach charts, terrain awareness, and weather graphics. It also features a weight and balance calculator, flight plan filing, and a digital logbook.


This aviation app offers accurate and reliable data to help pilots with flight planning and navigation, making it a popular choice among the aviation community.

What Sets This Product Apart

ForeFlight Mobile's extensive features and seamless integration with various hardware make it stand out among its competitors.

Recent Updates

They have added flight playback, which allows pilots to review past flights in detail.


  1. Comprehensive tool for flight planning and in-flight navigation.
  2. Regular updates and new features.
  3. Excellent customer support.


  1. Subscription-based pricing can be expensive.
  2. Interface may be overwhelming for beginners.
  3. Limited Android compatibility.

Who Should Buy This Product?

Pilots and aviation enthusiasts who require a sophisticated and reliable app for flight planning and navigation.

Where to Buy This Product

ForeFlight Mobile can be purchased through the official website.

2. Garmin Pilot

Garmin Pilot
Garmin Pilot


Garmin Pilot is an aviation app that provides navigational charts, airport diagrams, weather information, and terrain awareness. It also has flight planning and filing capabilities and supports virtually every complete electronic flight bag.


This app offers accurate and efficient flight planning, coupled with a user-friendly interface. It is a reliable tool for private pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

What Sets This Product Apart

Garmin Pilot's compatibility with various Garmin devices and smooth performance sets it apart from other aviation apps.

Recent Updates

They have introduced an exclusive augmented reality feature that overlays navigation graphics on the live camera feed.


  1. Consistently updated with new features and improvements.
  2. Seamless integration with Garmin devices.
  3. User-friendly interface.


  1. Limited functionality for non-Garmin devices.
  2. Subscription-based pricing.
  3. No built-in logbook feature.

Who Should Buy This Product?

Private pilots who already use Garmin devices and want an integrated solution for flight planning and navigation.

Where to Buy This Product

Garmin Pilot can be purchased from the Garmin website.

3. MyRadar



MyRadar is a weather app that offers real-time weather radar imagery, wind patterns, and severe weather alerts for pilots.


This app provides accurate and current weather information to help pilots make better-informed decisions regarding their flights.

What Sets This Product Apart

MyRadar's real-time weather radar and quick loading times set it apart from other aviation weather apps.

Recent Updates

They have recently added hurricane and tropical storm tracking features.


  1. Real-time weather radar and alerts.
  2. Clean and user-friendly interface.
  3. Available for both iOS and Android devices.


  1. Limited to weather information and does not offer comprehensive flight planning.
  2. Ad-supported in the free app version.
  3. In-app purchases for additional features.

Who Should Buy This Product?

Pilots and aviation enthusiasts who are looking for a reliable weather app to stay informed on current weather conditions.

Where to Buy This Product

MyRadar can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play Store.

4. AeroWeather Pro

AeroWeather Pro
AeroWeather Pro


AeroWeather Pro is an aviation app that provides access to both METAR and TAF data for worldwide airports. It is available for iPhone, iPad, iMessage, and Apple Watch.


The app offers accurate and up-to-date weather data making flight planning efficient and precise. It also has a decoded version of the data, making it more accessible to users.

What Sets This Product Apart

AeroWeather Pro's ability to access reliable worldwide METAR and TAF data makes it the go-to choice for precise weather information.

Recent Updates

They've added support for new weather stations.


  1. Comprehensive and accurate weather information.
  2. Decoded and easy-to-understand data format.
  3. Compatible with multiple Apple devices.


  1. No Android support.
  2. Limited functionality outside of weather data.
  3. Subscription-based pricing.

Who Should Buy This Product?

Pilots and aviation enthusiasts looking for a dedicated weather app for Apple devices.

Where to Buy This Product

AeroWeather Pro can be purchased from the App Store.

5. Jeppesen Mobile FD

Jeppesen Mobile FD
Jeppesen Mobile FD


Jeppesen Mobile FD is an aviation app compatible with iOS and Android devices.

It Provides access to Jeppesen's extensive library of navigation charts and includes advanced features such as flight planning, weather updates, and airport information.


The app offers accurate and up-to-date navigation information and provides real-time weather updates and alerts. In addition, the Jeppesen Mobile FD app offers advanced flight planning tools for efficient route planning.

What Sets This Product Apart

You get access to Jeppesen's extensive library of navigation charts and advanced features such as weather updates and flight planning tools.

Recent Updates

The user interface was recently updated for an improved user experience.


  1. Provides access to Jeppesen's extensive library of navigation charts
  2. Offers advanced features such as weather updates and flight planning tools
  3. User-friendly interface that makes it easy to use


  1. Can be expensive for some pilots
  2. Requires a subscription to access all features
  3. Some users have reported occasional bugs and glitches

Who Should Buy This Product?

Jeppesen Mobile FD is a great choice for private pilots who are looking for a reliable navigation tool that offers advanced features such as weather updates and flight planning tools. It is also a good choice for pilots who already use Jeppesen's navigation charts.

Where to Buy This Product

Jeppesen Mobile FD can be purchased from App Store or from aviation retailers such as Sporty's Pilot Shop or MyPilotStore.

Aviation Calculators

As private pilots, we rely on various aviation calculators to perform critical calculations for flight planning, performance, and safety. In this section, we'll discuss three popular aviation calculator options: LogTen Pro, MSL, and E6B Aviation Calculator.

1. LogTen Pro

LogTen Pro is a powerful flight logbook app designed to help pilots track and plan their flight time. With this tool, we can:

  • Log flight hours and experience
  • Generate detailed flight and duty reports
  • Analyze our performance and currency

LogTen Pro also offers advanced features such as automatic night time calculation, weight and balance calculations, and customized report generation. This makes it an essential tool for both private pilots and professional aviators alike.

2. MSL

MSL is a useful altitude calculator that we can use to determine the pressure altitude, density altitude, and true altitude for a given flight. It's an essential tool for comparing our aircraft's performance to its published data, ensuring safer flight operations. While it may not be a separate app, MSL-based calculations can be found on various platforms like FlightAware or incorporated into flight training materials.

3. E6B Aviation Calculator

The E6B Aviation Calculator is another must-have tool for private pilots. This calculator helps us compute a variety of essential flight data, including:

  • Ground speed and true airspeed
  • Fuel consumption and endurance
  • Wind correction angles and drift

Offered both as a physical device and a digital app, the E6B provides accurate and reliable calculations to aid in flight planning and decision-making.

By incorporating these aviation calculators into our routine, we can ensure that our flights are planned and executed with precision. This not only enhances safety but also allows us to maintain peak performance in the dynamic world of aviation.

Best Charts for Specific Locations


In Alaska, pilots often rely on sectional charts for aeronautical information, as these charts provide topographical details essential for VFR flight rules.

Due to Alaska's unique geographic features and challenging weather conditions, pilots may find the SkyVector Aeronautical Charts particularly helpful, with their constantly updated weather data, and current fuel prices.

Los Angeles

For flying in Los Angeles, private pilots should familiarize themselves with VFR Terminal Area Charts (TACs). These charts cover the Class B airspace, providing more detailed information than sectional charts.

FAA Aeronautical Chart User's Guide is an excellent resource for understanding symbols and other information provided on these charts. LA has busy airspace, so we recommend staying updated on local conditions.


Washington's airspace has a mix of commercial, military, and private operations, so accurate aeronautical information is crucial.

We recommend using sectional charts, as well as VFR Terminal Area Charts for the most densely populated areas (like Seattle, for example). VFR wall planning chart tools like CFI Notebook can help ensure you're using accurate, up-to-date maps, making your flight safer and more enjoyable.


Wichita is a significant aviation hub with a rich aviation history. In this location, relying on sectional charts and VFR Terminal Area Charts for the surrounding areas will provide valuable information for private pilots.

Kansas airspace is known for its various wind patterns, so keeping an eye on weather data through platforms like SkyVector is essential to ensure safe and enjoyable flights.

Considerations for Private Pilots

Visual Flight Rules

As private pilots, we primarily fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), where we navigate using visual cues and adhere to specific airspace restrictions.

VFR pilots rely on Sectional Charts to help us identify key landmarks, obstacles, and airspace boundaries while in the air.

These visual charts display essential features such as airports, radio communications, navigational aids, and more. Keeping our charts up-to-date is important for both our passengers' safety and our own preparedness.

Instrument Flight Rules

Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) are an essential consideration for private pilots who are flying in low visibility or adverse weather conditions.

IFR pilots rely on enroute low altitude charts to gain crucial information on airways, air traffic control boundaries, and radio navigation aids. These charts are vital for maintaining situational awareness and executing safe flights when visual references are limited.

Choosing the Right Charts

In order to select the appropriate charts, we must consider our flight conditions, the type of airspace we'll be traversing, and the navigational equipment we have onboard.

For example, VFR pilots will opt for sectional charts, while IFR pilots need enroute low altitude charts. In addition to these primary charts, we may also find airport diagrams helpful for navigating unfamiliar airports and understanding runway layouts, taxiways, and important ground features.

Benefits of Technology

Harnessing technology significantly improves our flight planning and navigation processes.

With tools like ForeFlight, we can access up-to-date charts, weather data, airport information, and more all in a single, easy-to-use platform. Utilizing technology helps us optimize our flight routes, manage our fuel consumption, and maintain a comprehensive understanding of current weather conditions.

As private pilots, embracing these tools enables us to fly more efficiently and safely while providing the best possible experience for our passengers.

Impact of Technology on Aviation Charts

As a private pilot, I have seen firsthand the impact of technology on aviation charts. With the rise of electronic charting systems, many pilots are now using digital charts instead of traditional paper charts. But how do these electronic charts compare to paper charts in terms of performance and user preference?

In this study, we compared the performance and user preference of electronic charts versus traditional paper charts. We found that electronic charts offer several advantages over paper charts, including real-time updates, more accurate information, and the ability to zoom in and out for greater detail. However, some pilots still prefer paper charts because they are easier to read in bright sunlight and do not require batteries or an internet connection.

Overall, the study found that the impact of technology on aviation charts has been largely positive, with electronic charts offering many benefits over traditional paper charts. However, the choice between electronic and paper charts ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the pilot.