Section III Mastering The Sport | Chapter 17 | See also Airspace for Paramotor Pilots

These instructions show how to overlay a sectional chart onto a Google Earth map. This allows you to pinpoint your launch site with Google Earth then overlay the sectional chart to see if the airspace is legal. The downloadable charts used for this are out of date so you must verify the airspace with a current sectional ( is close).

Thanks to Adam Bell for suggesting this one from wikiHow—it worked on my first try so it’s probably fairly reliable.

Before you start, make sure you have:

  • A reasonably high-speed internet connection. If you can use Google Earth, your connection is fast enough. DSL may require extreme patience.

  • The latest version of Google Earth. From the help menu, select “Check for Updates Online.” Besides supporting these features, the new version of Google earth also seems more stable with less memory leakage.

Use Google Earth to find your launch site and put a “push-pin” on it. That’ll let you see your site when the chart covers up Google’s aerial image. Then:

  • Open Google Earth and set it up so your place names show up on the left side. Either menu select View | Sidebar or press CTRL-ALT-B.

  • Download the sectional data from here.

  • Open the download file. Google Earth will automatically capture the download and, within a minute or so you should see outlines of each sectional chart and terminal area chart map appear as blue lines (see image above left). You can zoom in to bring the map names into view.

  • Check the box next to the map name listed under the Places menu to load that particular map. It will load from the sectional data site (thanks to them for providing this free service).

Terminal Area Charts and 3D airspace are also available if you’re zoomed in to within 500 miles—check under the Places Menu. Like the rest of Google Earth, the sectional overlays will become clearer as you zoom in.

3D airspace is not accurate vertically meaning there is a lot of area under the B and C airspace where you could launch from that the 3D illustration shows as consumed. Use the chart to determine the floors. It’s useful the way it is, however, because it shows the outlines. So even if you’re below the floor of an overlying B airspace, it’s nice to see where the boundary outlines relate to your launch location for determining how how you can legally climb.

Be careful, the sectionals are old and cannot be relied upon for determining airspace legality. Use a current chart to verify that the data hasn’t changed as airspace changes do get made periodically. Always check for temporary flight restrictions (TFR’s) before flying. These pop up with little notice.

1. This shows an overview of the main airspace types used in the U.S. and their associated limitations.

2. A sight we want to avoid! Know thy airspace, know that we are here at the pleasure of the people and preserve the sport for future generations. The PPG Bible has far more complete coverage on airspace and legal issues but this is a great start.

A VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) station is used for aircraft navigation and by air traffic controllers to reference airspace such as that listing restricted areas. The reason why we might care about it is 1) to know that airplanes congregate overhead – it’s good to avoid above about 800′ AGL and 2) we can easily describe locations using distance and direction from it. Such reference can be useful when getting permission to fly in controlled airspace.

The the location of the station and it’s compass rose are pointed at by (#2). The name of the VOR (VERO BEACH) and it’s controlling agency (St Petersburg) are at (#1).

The degrees of the compass rose are in 5 degree increments and, space permitting, are labeled every 30 degrees. The (#3) above points to the 090, 120, 150, 180 and 210 degree lines of the VRB VOR.

If, for example, a NOTAM listed prohibited airspace on the 210 degree radial, at 7nm (nautical miles) with a radius of 2nm, that would be the area depicted by the black dotted circle out the 210° radial. The black dots were added here for clarity. These location won’t be on the charts, that is why they use a radial/distance to mark them.