When GPS Is Not Enough

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Sectionals, GPS, and moving maps are all well and good, but sometimes what a pilot needs is a good old-fashioned street map -- especially if you're flying at low level over urban areas, trying to find a fleeing bad guy or a person in distress or a house on fire. A company called AeroComputers has developed a system called UltiChart to meet just that need, but it's not cheap, running from $30,000 to $60,000 apiece. "We make very sophisticated equipment smart," company president Mark Gassaway told the Ventura County Star. "We're taking technology and making it useful for a very difficult environment." The system comprises a database and a camera, and with the flick of a switch can show the pilot the helicopter's location on a street map. The pilot also can type in an address and get directions on how to fly there, or access a detailed topographical map.