Special Rules Area Charts – Johannesburg and Cape Town

Imagine an aviation chart that has all the essential ground detail like roads and mountains and towns, yet doesn’t need an iPad or a whole EFIS system to display.

Imagine a chart that doesn’t rely on batteries that will unexpectedly let you down. Imagine a map that covers a large area in detail, yet that weighs a few grams and can be reduced to just the size of a cell phone?

I have great news – such a map exists. The big secret is that it’s made of paper. And even better, it’s made by methodical Germans, so we can expect it to be accurate.

Call me old school – but I love maps – or more accurately – charts.

The great news is that such a product has arrived in South Africa. Made by Eisenschmidt, the well-known map maker (well-known in Europe anyway), this is the chart that we should have had all along, starting from when Pontius was still a navigator.

At South Africa’s AERO Expo in July, Eisenschmidt shared a stand with Aviation Direct, the maker of the South African industry standard EasyPlan flight planning and EasyCockpit navigation software.

As a long-time user of EasyPlan and EasyCockpit, I have often moaned to owner Andrea Antel that it would be so much better if her navigation software could at least have key ground features marked out. After all, when flying VFR, you are supposed to look out the window and recognise things to know where you are, especially in complicated airspace like the Joburg Special Rules Area.

My wish has now been answered – and far better than I dared hope. Andrea has teamed up with Eisenschmidt to produce the chart we always wanted, at least of the Joburg and Cape Town Special Rules Area – so far. They give you the best of both worlds; you can have a good old fashioned 1:250,000 paper map – or you can have it running as the background to your EasyCockpit electronic gadgetry.

Eisenschmidt have been around since before flying was even invented. The business was founded in 1880 by Rudolf Eisenschmidt in Berlin. In September 1909 the first chart for airships made its debut and this was the forerunner of today’s aeronautical charts.

Eisenschmidt became the industry standard in aviation charts. And it shows in this new South African offering. The Joburg Special Rules Area chart has everything you could ever think of – and lots more you didn’t think of. A feature I particularly liked is that the latitude and longitude is printed along the back edge of the map. To find the coordinates of any one place you simply fold the edge over and read them off.

But the best part is the detail of aeronautical features like airports and reporting points – and also the detailed instructions – such as how to fly the Kyalami VFR Blue route or the Pinedene route. All the details are in plain easy to find notes on the chart.  Most importantly too – all the key features you need are marked in big letters – such as the frequency you should be on.

On the back of the chart there is all the info you could want, such as a diagram of the semicircular rule, and of the types of airspace, to name just a few.

The aeronautical information comes from Andrea Antel’s Aviation Direct. She used to be the approved provider for Jeppesen charts until they stopped printing them, and she also publishes the essential reference work ‘Airfields of Southern Africa’. She too is methodical about the quality of her data – so the chart is reliable.

While I really like this new product, I have a minor niggle. The detail of each airfield on the chart I would have like to see the 4 numbers that denote runway alignment (eg – 06/24). I have embarrassed myself too many times arriving at an airfield and then calling, “ZS-OFH, I will join overhead for landing on runway ‘ahh – errm – the westerly one’.

But this new chart really is the best thing since Christmas. For now you can have it in paper but also in the near future on EasyCockpit software. As it is still in development the price has not yet been finalised, but Andrea is keen to keep it under a very affordable R300.

Andrea now has the definitive first version for JHB and the Cape available for sale. It is obtainable from all good aviation shops or from – Aviation Direct – +27 72 340 9943 (Andrea) or visit www.aviationdirect.co.za

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