Old Sectional Charts

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Old Sectional Charts

Postby Ryan Smith » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:16 pm

Good afternoon all!

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy in 2021. I'm in the final throes of battling COVID, and while it's not been awful, it's certainly not been fun.

Firmly believing I was born in the wrong era, I'm fascinated with old things...obviated by my love for old airplanes among others. A friend posted this link on another forum, and I've been having a wonderful time retracing my airplane's old haunts using the charts that would have been carried when she was new.

https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3701pm.gc ... NHDH-vUFrY

The Library of Congress has catalogued old sectional chart printings from the 1930s through the 1960s in amazing detail. At 300DPI, the large TIFF files (at over 500MB) is nearly five feet wide! I'm thinking of having the ones from early 1952 printed onto large posters that I can tile together and put on the wall. The colors are gorgeous and the detail is certainly amazing. It's remarkable how much simpler things were back then.

One curiosity that is piqued my interest, though, are the vastly different airport elevations from then to now. My home field, Air Harbor (W88) in Greensboro, NC, has been on the same patch of ground since 1945 or so. The first instance of the airport being charted was in April, 1948, and the elevation is listed as 960 feet. As long as I've been alive, the airport has been 822 feet. More of an oddity than anything else.

I hope this bring as much joy to others as it has me. I wouldn't mind figuring out what kind of paper the charts were originally printed on and having some printed to keep in the airplane for grins. It certainly would add a neat finishing touch to a 100% original restoration display.
Last edited by Ryan Smith on Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby johneeb » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:25 pm

Bummer Ryan, get well soon.
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby NewEnglandPilot » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:25 pm

Interesting about the elevation change. What is the grade like there? Wondering if they took the elevation readings at different points on the airport over the years - maybe the terminal moved, etc. That's a big gap, certainly more than would be anticipated by any kind of natural variance.
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby JSwift » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:57 pm

Ryan,

Get well soon! You definitely struck a cord with one of my favorite amusements, old maps. I want to click on the link but fear I will be “lost” for days. Thanks for sharing. I’m working on a wall in my hangar for maps and memorabilia just like this. Very cool!
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby c170b53 » Tue Feb 09, 2021 2:25 am

Ryan, we had an outbreak at work but fortunately we work in crews, we wear masks and try to distance ourselves. One crew got hit hard, very little info but some mild, some family members ended up in hospital. Spent the last 9 months traveling the Eastern world including China but always wearing protection, so far so lucky. Message is simple for this guy. Hope you get past this in a hurry with no lingerings.
Now back to the thread...sort of. Here’s a pic of a fly in resort in northern NJ “ Blairstown”. Tried to sort through the maps but gave up when I started going everywhere. Curious does our NJ members still fly here
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby n2582d » Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:34 am

Ryan,
Sorry to hear you got Covid. Get well soon. A couple of months before retiring this last year I was deadheading from PHX to FAT on a regional carrier. As I came to the gate there was a young lady in a parka - rather odd in PHX I thought - slumped against the wall in front of the check-in kiosk. She looked very sick and was upchucking into a plastic bag for about 10 minutes before the gate agent told her to move back. To my surprise they allowed her to board after everyone else had. I told the lead FA what I had witnessed and she asked if she should tell the Captain. Finally a CSA kindly escorted her off. All this to say it's amazing to me that, given the nature of your job, that you didn't get it sooner. How has the infection rate been among fellow crewmembers?

Several years ago I managed to make it to the top of Mt. Whitney. The elevation there has changed over the years but apparently it's been because they have refined what elevation sea level is. Here's s Wikipedia quote:
The estimated elevation of Mount Whitney's summit has changed over the years. The technology of elevation measurement has become more refined and, more importantly, the vertical coordinate system has changed. The peak was commonly said to be at 14,494 ft (4,418 m) and this is the elevation stamped on the USGS brass benchmark disk on the summit. An older plaque on the summit (sheet metal with black lettering on white enamel) reads "elevation 14,496.811 feet", but this was estimated using the older vertical datum (NGVD29) from 1929. Since then the shape of the Earth (the geoid) has been estimated more accurately. Using a new vertical datum established in 1988 (NAVD88) the benchmark is now estimated to be 14,505 ft (4,421 m).[
11 feet of correction on Mt. Whitney is a lot less than the 138 feet you're showing at this airport though. Do other airports in the area show similar disparities?
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby Bruce Fenstermacher » Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:46 am

c170b53 wrote:Here’s a pic of a fly in resort in northern NJ “ Blairstown”. Tried to sort through the maps but gave up when I started going everywhere. Curious does our NJ members still fly here


Jim, lately as I've been confined to flying only in a Champ, Blairstown, NJ is only one of two places I've flown to last year. It is not a resort but I could see how it tried to be or perhaps once was. The airport is doing as well or maybe better than most airports these days. They have a huge glider operation which keeps the place busy.

Looking at the picture, the house you see, if I'm not mistaken, is been left to return to the earth. There are so many trees now between the airport and the lake that one might never know the lake is there if you are on the ground at the airport. Much of the other side of the runway in the distance is hangers and tall trees, not the wide open space you see in the picture.
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby GAHorn » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:20 am

First... RYAN! So Sorry you’re faced with this Covid illness! It simply isn’t being respected by everyone, Sadly not even in our own group. Keep us posted on your progress!

Secondly: I too have a small collection of old Sectionals. I loaned one to my former employer CAE/SimuFlite while I was active up there. It was a 1941 Dallas Sectional which was framed and placed beside the 1943 LINK trainer in the lobby display. I now have it in my study. It covers the area from Abilene to just East of Dallas, and from Wichita Falls to Hillsboro. The fascination is the Radio-Range Colored Airways that were in-use at the time. I also have a copy of the Dallas Love Field Radio-Range Approach. It’s fun to imaging how listening to Morse Code A’s and N’s and HUMs through a headset during the crackling and popping of a Thunderstorm might have challenged our flying pioneers! 8O
It’s also fun to study the area now known as the DFW Metroplex and compare it to the 1941 version of creeks and villages then-known as the Grapevine area... now covered in Yellow Metroplex and man-made lakes and airport. (In fact, it’s fun to look at 1973 Sectionals which I used when flying pipeline patrol in that area and see the dozen airports which no longer exist where now DFW sprawls.).


Vertical datums have changed over the years, as have other Nav Datums. When GPS was being considered for world wide navigation the various authorities had to settle between themselves which NAV-datum to utilize (WGS84 was selected.) I remember my first Loran had a choice of which datum to use in it’s setup routine and the differences were surprising on Lat/Lon solutions.

Here’s a cut-and-paste from MapTools that gives an idea of the issue:
Map Datums
An incorrect datum, can put you hundreds of meters from your actual position
The datum you have setup in your GPS receiver must match the datum used to create the map you are using. The three common datums in use in the Continental United States are:

NAD 27 CONUS - North American Datum of 1927 for the Continental United States (Common on older USGS maps)
NAD 83 – North American Datum of 1983 (Used on most newer USGS maps)
WGS 84 – World Geodetic System of 1984 (The default datum used by the GPS system)
Most USGS topographic maps are based on an earlier datum called the North American Datum of 1927 or NAD 27. (Some GPS units subdivide this datum into several datums spread over the continent. In the Continental United States use NAD27 CONUS.)

The Global Positioning System uses an earth centered datum called the World Geodetic System 1984 or WGS 84. WGS 84 was adopted as a world standard from a datum called the North American Datum of 1983 or NAD 83. There is typically only a meter or two difference between WGS 84 and NAD 83 in the Continental United States. The difference between WGS 84 and NAD 27 can be as much as 200 meters.

A failure to use the correct datum can introduce hundreds of meters of position error.
The datum is an important component of a coordinate.
A coordinate with an unknown datum is an approximate location at best.
The datum should be written with individual coordinates or included with explanatory notes when many coordinates are used.
Cartographers that include a coordinate grid on their maps, must also specify the datum used.
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby edbooth » Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:14 pm

I have just about every chart ever acquired since soloing in 1958. I didn't get my ticket until 1968. The early charts were only printed with the chart on one side. The back side had almost enough information on it that if studied you could almost pass the PP exam. When planning for the Yellowknife convention trip in 1983, I had the charts laid out on the floor from Atlanta to Yellowknife, they just about covered the living and dining room floor. Do you reckon 50 years from now there will be guys with collections of "glass panels" ??
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby hilltop170 » Wed Feb 10, 2021 5:34 am

I wish I had all the old sectionals and WAC charts I have bought over the last 51 years. But, then again, I normally used them until they literally fell apart at the seams so there was really no point in keeping them.
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby edbooth » Wed Feb 10, 2021 2:48 pm

hilltop170 wrote:I wish I had all the old sectionals and WAC charts I have bought over the last 51 years. But, then again, I normally used them until they literally fell apart at the seams so there was really no point in keeping them.


I also have several 80's vintage Canadian charts including the Alaska highway chart. You have been back and forth across that area so many times you probably don't need chart assistance anymore. Actually I found that the Alaska/Yellowknife trips were easier than flying around some parts of the US. It was mostly, follow the road. Just keep a closer watch on the Wx.
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Re: Old Sectional Charts

Postby hilltop170 » Fri Feb 12, 2021 3:38 pm

Hey Ed
Keep those Canadian charts, especially the Alaska Highway chart, not sure they are selling that one anymore. I have a whole bag devoted just to Canadian charts including the highway chart. Yes, having flown between Alaska and the Lower 48 over 80 times in the last 38 years, in all kinds of light planes, even with trying to go a different route each time, all the routes get fairly familiar, but I still carry the charts, even with ForeFlight. You never know when the screen might go dark and Canada is not a place you want to get lost, especially in Northern BC and the Yukon. I don’t always follow the roads, I go where the weather is the best.
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