One of the most heartbreaking events in aviation is when the fixed-wing pilot applicant discovered that a flight they used to meet the cross-county requirements of a particular certificate or rating does not meet the legal definition of FAR 61.1(b)(1), which states “time must include a landing at least a straight line distance of more than 50 nm from the original point of departure.”
This distance is measured using a plotter on a visual flight rule (VFR) sectional—sometimes that can be a challenge as more and more aspiring aviators are using electronic versions of the sectionals rather than paper.
That is, unless you reference a sectional that makes your airport the center of the universe and the 50 nm distance (or more) is marked with concentric circles. That’s the concept behind the Custom-Designed Aviation Charts from aviatorproducts.com
Founder and southern California pilot Edward Gonzalez designed the first Custom-Designed Aviation Chart as a gift for his son, who had just earned his private pilot certificate “at KSN /Santa Ana—where I earned my ticket some thirty odd years ago,” the elder Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez is a commercial photographer and has always admired VFR sectionals as having an artistic quality to them.
He combined that with the concept of the route depicting maps like the ones you see in the back of airline inflight magazines and put the concept on poster paper. Proud of his creation, Gonzalez posted a picture of the chart on Facebook, and soon heard from other aviation enthusiasts who wanted to know where to get one like it.
This led to creating a web page to market it, “and the orders started rolling in,” he said.
As the name implies, the custom chart centers on the customer’s airport of choice and has overlaid concentric circles, which you can customize in intervals ranging from 100 nm to 500 nm, as each chart is made-to-order. They come in a variety of sizes and can be printed on fabric or acrylic. Customers can also add a company logo or a personal message.
At this point, the charts are only available for U.S. airspace. The custom charts are more durable than a sectional thumbtacked to the wall as they don’t tear easily or fade from age.
“It is a material that is thicker than the paper used for standard aviation charts. It also has a nice semi-gloss finish,” Gonzalez said. “As for the detail, the chart is based on FAA material, [and] the detail and beauty of their charts is stunning—it is essentially artwork so it belongs on prominent display.
“The first version was essentially the VFR planning chart with concentric circles overlaid onto it,” he added. “As part of that initial design, I also added the simulated mat border around the image. I think it really dresses up the presentation, and like the circles, adds a unique feature not found on standard aviation charts.”
The larger charts come in vinyl or fabric, as the material it is printed on makes a difference, says Gonzalez. “For instance, in order to offer the print in larger sizes, 9 feet wide by 6 feet high and 12 feet wide by 8 feet high—I learned that vinyl prints with an adhesive back offered an ideal solution. I then learned that prints could be done on this tight-weave fabric material. The fabric allows for even larger prints, and grommets around the perimeter provide a simple solution for hanging the print. Absolutely my favorite material though are prints on acrylic—they are a beautiful showpiece and truly a conversation starter.”
According to Gonzalez, customers are using the charts for quick planning, teaching aids, and to mark the airports where they have been.
“We have one client that already has several hundred pins on his chart and is trying to reach a thousand,” he said.
The charts are made in the U.S. The lag time from order to delivery is approximately two weeks. The company is establishing a nationwide network of trusted partners that can print and provide local pick-up or delivery of oversized items, thus eliminating the charge for oversized freight.