Sectionals, Charts, and Maps

This is the first of several/many blog postings introducing new pilots – Drone and Fixed and Rotor Wings types – to some of the ins and outs of how the FAA handles airspace in the United States. It is meant to be informative and helpful but should not serve as a substitute for the several excellent, formal (read that you give someone money!) courses out there. One that I am associated with (and thus, of course, an excellent site!) is Drone Academy (

The way I see it, there are two main aspects of flying aircraft. The First is the physical part, you manipulating the controls of the craft to keep it flying and you safe. There is an old adage that notes, ‘It is a Good Landing if you walk away alive. It is a Great Landing if the craft can take off again!’ As a pilot you want to be able to take your craft off from the earth, maneuver it without injuring anyone or breaking any property, and land it back safe enough that you can use it again. The better you do the that happier you will be and anyone associated with you and the airspace you will be flying in. The Second Part is the one that involves you flying without violating any of the FAA and local rules. These rules are primarily designed to keep pilots from bumping their craft into someone else’s or back into the earth and those things jutting out from it. In the course of this blog both aspects will be dealt with but I will begin with the Second Part – the FAA’s regulations. Flying your bird involves the hands on that a blog cannot provide and for those drone driver types, you have not gone through the training that fixed wing and rotor wing pilots have, or for the most part, to the degree that they have. Here is where I fit in. I am a licensed pilot flying Bonanzas these days and I am also Instrument rated, which is always a good idea when flying something as fast and long legged as a Bonanza.

When I worked at a drone store (Drones Plus Dallas –, the most frequent questions from new customers concerned the airspace and how to make heads and tails of it. This is particularly important in the Dallas-Fort Worth area because  we have some serious airspace here and it can be daunting maneuvering around in it without getting local and federal attention!

What I have below are two links to maps from the FAA. Those are followed by three types of maps. I will talk about these in more detail in my next post.



















Confessions of a frustrated Skyhawk Driver or How I learned to be Inspired

I got into this business by way of a hobby to pay for my flying habit – flying is fun but it ain’t cheap! In North Carolina I talked a fellow professor to put his trust in the LORD to the test and climb into the right seat of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk with me. He, being a camera aficionado and looking for a different perspective, agreed to put his life and equipment into my hands. Although he did not hesitate to join me in the cockpit and to take photographs of virtually everything that passed under his wing (we have yet to identify the location of some really nice looking churches) he did, each time we flew, upon my beginning the approach to land, activate the video function of his camera and announce, rather loudly, “I am activating the Black Box,” as a form of photographic evidence of the ensuing crash and fireball! Although such did not occur, I now have a fair number of video clips of my landings. Fellow drivers will understand that not all will find their way to YouTube (I mean, it ain’t all that easy doing a really nice cross wind landing!).

We had some fun and made some money (although more red in the ‘habit versus hobby’ column). One day we had put together some of our better local shots, particularly one church that was on our flight path and consequently got shot a lot, printed them, framed them, and went on the road to sell them. Much to our surprise and delight they sold! Oddly enough, we priced them high in the thought that there would be some ‘haggling’ only to discover that Americans don’t haggle – you tell them a price and they pay it! And, being no fools, each time we went to sell we pushed the price up for the next customer who, like a good American, paid it! Somewhere along the line I thought to meownself, “If I did not have a day job (I was being paid well to spend someone else’s money on all the books I wanted) I could make a good living making and selling photographs taken out of the window of a speeding (no comments from the Bonanza drivers please) aircraft.

Fast forward to the present and move the locale to Dallas, Texas. Having semi-retired (for a variety of reasons) to live with and help my mother-in-law and fellow pilot (really-she got her private ticket at age 50!!) I tried multitudinous times to find employment in the teaching profession (which I fell in love with as a Marine Drill Instructor) only to find the lack of a teaching certificate overrode two MAs and a Ph.D. and that a 60+ year old with a Ph.D. are not as desired as 20ish possessors of MAs, whom, I suppose, can be paid less and controlled more. Alas and alack.

I then turned to my old hobby – flying photographs! I started a company (composed of meownself), got a web page (this one here) and ensured that it did not refer to drones at all – I wanted to make money flying real airplanes and just a few years ago there was money to be made. Not-No-Mo.

It turns out, as my old partner had mentioned just a few years back, drones are the way to go. The technology behind today’s drones is astonishing! They are downright Marine and Aggie proof, which is saying quite a bit. Suffice it to say I included the word ‘drone’ into my web page and strategy and I started getting hits all over the place! I had arranged with a drone driver to provide that service if asked but he had turned out to be too busy himself. With all the hits I was getting I decided to sell a really nice rifle (Springfield Arms M1A Super Match!) to buy a really good drone, the DJI Inspire 1 (knowing that a successful drone will make enough to buy back the rifle-which has since occurred). Having done that and having discovered a good price point (alas, the old days are gone!) I have started to engage in what I pray will be a very successful and useful business. Successful enough to go flying just for fun or travel! If only my mother-in-law’s daughter like to fly!