As a pilot, I’ve learned never to take having access to the right aviation charts for granted. These charts provide helpful information on landmarks and other important visual aids for airports.
One thing I’ve found very helpful about these charts is the availability of separate charts for flying under visual flight rules (VFR) and instrument flight rules (IFR). I’ve put together a list of the most important and, quite simply, the best aviation charts you need to fly a private aircraft.
Table of Contents
The Types of Aviation Charts
- Sectional charts – These charts feature topographic and other useful information for flying under VFR flight rules, with distinct charts for specific flight areas.
- VFR terminal area charts (TACS) – These charts cover Class B airspace and are more detailed versions of the sectional charts.
- IFR en route low altitude charts – This type of chart is for flying below 18,000 ft msl and reports helpful information such as clearance attitudes and military training routes
- IFR en route high altitude charts – These charts are similar to their low altitude counterparts, although designed for routes above 18,000 ft msl
- U.S. IFR/VFR low altitude planning chart – This type of chart is perfect for planning under either IFR or VFR
Our picks for the best aviation charts include:
- a VFR wall planning chart perfect for pre-flight use, FAA Charts U.S. VFR Wall Planning Chart
- an IFR low altitude chart always considered current, the FAA Charts Enroute Low Altitude L17/18 ELUS17
- an IFR high altitude chart with all necessary information, the High Altitude Enroute H 1/2 EHUS1
- the best flight planning chart for under IFR or VFR flights, the FAA Charts U.S. IFR/VFR Low Altitude Planning Chart USPLAN
All these charts have excellent readibility, making them easy to read.
FAA Charts U.S. VFR Wall Planning Chart
I’ve found the FAA Charts U.S. VFR Wall Planning Chart one of the most helpful options available for flight planning. Having this chart available in a folded and poster version helps make it one of the most convenient options.
The map is current as of December 5, 2021. Pilots will be able to effectively plan their flights along with altitude and sectional charts.
I enjoyed the quality of the paper the chart is printed on. The 42 X 60 in size makes this chart perfect to keep on your wall for handy reference.
FAA Charts Enroute Low Altitude L17/18 ELUS17
The FAA Charts Enroute Low Altitude L17/18 ELUS17 is one of the best options I’ve found for flying into the South Central and Southwestern part of the U.S. As a frequent flyer into this part of the country, I can’t find any complaints about this chart.
One of the most helpful features that this chart has is its updates every two years. I’m very pleased with the idea of receiving the most updated version every time I order one of the charts.
High Altitude Enroute H 1/2 EHUS1
The High Altitude Enroute H 1/2 EHUS1 covers the Northwest and North Central parts of the U.S. With these regions being the places I fly to the most often after the Southwest and South Central areas; this chart was a very helpful addition to my collection.
I feel that this chart is a must for anyone regularly flying into Class A airspace. All the information pilots require for flying at higher altitudes is here, from VHF facilities to jet routes.
The range that this chart covers is also quite extensive. The westernmost region covers Oregon and Washington, while the easternmost part covers Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
I also appreciated the subscription options being available in addition to one-time purchases. The subscription is the best way I’ve found to stay updated.
FAA Charts U.S. IFR/VFR Low Altitude Planning Chart USPLAN
The FAA Charts U.S. IFR/VFR Low Altitude Planning Chart USPLAN is another flexible option I’ve found for charts. I enjoyed this chart also being available in folded or poster formats.
I found the inclusion of the 48 contiguous states useful for longer cross-country flights. Insets for areas ranging from Washington D.C. to Boston and the Los Angeles and San Diego areas were helpful for shorter commuter flights.
Another feature I found helpful was the airport directory that included airspace classifications. The mileage between airports was one of the best features overall.
What types of charts do VFR pilots use?
Pilots flying under VFR use aeronautical charts. These charts not only allow pilots to track their locations but also provide helpful safety information.
What are the charts pilots use?
Aeronautical charts in the U.S. are published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Most of these charts are for flying under VFR.
Where do pilot charts come from?
Cockpits do not contain approach charts. the types of charts provided for pilots conform to the flight plan, showing the departure and destination locations, as well as alternates. when planes land in a different location from what’s in the plan, air traffic control will provide guidance.