Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Laziness & Helpfulness

My e-mail says...

I just bought a cheap mapping GPS and am programming in some local airports. What's the best online free source of coordinates for US airports?

I don't know. I always use aviation GPSes with commercial databases. But I can be lazy with this blog entry and help him out all in a few paragraphs. Because I'm sure one of you knows. He says he has to do manual data entry, so he's not looking for any particular format. Sounds pretty primitive!

My correspondent assures me that the GPS is just a toy for him and that his primary navigation will be based on current legal publications.


Moe said...

I love using SkyVector for a copy of VFR/IFR charts online and planning. You can also put in way-points (such as airports) and simply click them on the map to pop up a page with information and coordinates.


Anonymous said...

I have used the GPX data from http://www.navaid.com/GPX/?clear=yes
This works very well, but you need to be somewhat selective or you get everything. For example you may want just airports with paved runways >5000ft and not need every Navaid and fix out there.
Again Caveat Gubernator

Mongo said...

See www.runwayfinder.com, www.airnav.com, and www.ourairports.com. Or, you can just download the whole airports & navaids database from the FAA for free.

I'm assuming that your emailer just bought a hiking GPS. All aviation GPS that I know of do altitude as well and have a database. His GPS is only good for VFR orientation.

Anonymous said...

I always use WWW.Airnav.com that Mongo listed for this data. My ground based GPS (a very popular model) also does altitude with no trouble at all although it's not designed for the air and doesn't have airport locations it handles ascent/descent mapping with no problems. At least no problems for mapping your path. It certainly wouldn't be accurate enough for an approach and you'd be crazy to try it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the www.navaid.com link!
It's a good one for free-as-in-beer, but be careful about the US DAFIF data.

The US data is no longer updated and freely released. If you really want current, "open format" data, see


.. Which is a nominal cost subscription service within for the US global DAFIF data.. it will be current, but this site & data fmts are admittedly targeted towards us glider types.


majroj said...

I'm an old flatus but one thing I say GPS does best is get folks in the air and folks on the ground together when the navaids, street signs and a lot of the trees and houses are down.
They still tried to use maps for Katrina. Everyone had their own map, and their own radios.