Pilots Guides to the Western United States from Optima Publications

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  • Pilots Guide to California Airports;
  • Pilots Guide to Southwestern Airports;
  • Pilots Guide to Northwestern Airports

You've got to be crazy to fly in the Western U.S. without having these remarkable books in the cockpit with you. They set the standards for what airport guides should be ... nothing else even comes close. The poor folks who fly in other parts of the country without guides like these just don't know what they're missing.

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ProductsIt is probably not an exaggeration to say that these three books have revolutionized general aviation flying in the western states. Pilots Guide to California Airports, its sister publication Pilots Guide to Southwestern Airports, and the recently released Pilots Guide to Northwestern Airports are without question the most comprehensive and useful airport guides ever assembled for pilots who fly in the West.

Pilots Guide to California AirportsCreating Pilots Guide was an immense project that took more than a decade to evolve into the invaluable blue and orange books that have occupied a prominent position in my flight bag for many years. Husband-and-wife team Richard and Nancy Fouquet founded Optima Publications and began developing the Pilots Guide concept in about 1970. But it took four long years before the first edition of Pilots Guide to California Airports rolled off the press in 1974 and quickly became California's best-selling source of airport information. Optima updates the Pilots Guide three times a year — in February, June, and October — to keep the guide always up-to-date.

Now remember that back in those days, there was no such thing as desktop publishing software or laser printers! All the artwork had to be hand-drawn, the hundreds of photographs had to be matted, all the text had to be typeset on a monster Merganthaler phototypesetting machine, and the pages pasted up by hand. When you consider that the the "Blue Book" is more than 400 pages long with over 600 photographis, maps and diagrams, you can just imagine what dedication this effort must have taken!

Pilots Guide to Southwestern AirportsIn 1980, Optima granted a license to produce and publish a similar Pilots Guide covering the southwestern states to another husband-and-wife team, Richard and Suzanne Reese. Three years later, in 1983, the Reeses' company RGR Publications released the first edition of Pilots Guide to Southwestern Airports covering Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. (The southwestern guide does not include California airports.) This orange-covered book is even bigger than its blue-covered cousin, with more than 550 pages and over 1,000 photos, maps and diagrams!

Pilots Guide to Northwestern AirportsThe newest member of the Pilots Guide family was released in March of 1999. Pilots Guide to Northwestern Airports is the most detailed airport guide ever offered for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. This green-covered book has more than 400 pages with over 800 photos, maps and diagrams, employing  the same proven format of the other two Pilots Guide books, and is a most welcome addition to pilots like me who fly in the northwest.

Fun Places to Fly #9 And just for fun, don't miss this! Fun Places to Fly issue #9 is chock full of information about ten of the most enjoyable fly-in destinations in California and the West; Catalina Island, Carmel by the Sea, Eureka and Mammoth to name a few. Profusely illustrated and with everything you need to know to plan a marvelous day or weekend trip.

What is Pilots Guide?

Pilots Guide tells you everything you need to know about an airport and its surrounding environment and airspace so you'll know precisely what to expect and what to avoid as you fly to or from that field. Each guide devotes five full pages to each tower-controlled airport, and a half or full page to each non-tower airport. Each Pilots Guide comes in a sturdy three-ring binder measuring 9"x7" which fits comfortably in most flight bags, and is revised twice a year.

Tower-Controlled Airports

As you approach a tower-controlled airport, you open the guide to the first two facing pages for that field: the approach information page on the left and the fold-out approach map on the right.

Approach info pageThe approach information page has a north-facing photograph of the airport, plus key information you'll need:

  • Airport name and identifier.
  • Latitude and longitude coordinates.
  • Which Sectionals and IFR Enroute Charts cover this airport.
  • Distance and bearing from other nearby airports.
  • Distance and radial from nearby VORs.
  • ATIS, approach control, and tower frequencies.
  • What instructions the tower will probably give you approaching the airport from various directions.

 

Approach map fold-out pageThe approach map is a unique fold-out chart that helps you visualize:

  • The surrounding terrain features, shown in graphic 3-D relief.
  • Drawings of VFR reporting points used by the tower.
  • Other airports, highways, rivers, lakes, and other landmarks.
  • Milage rings and heading arrows.
  • Boundaries and sector altitudes for Class B and C airspace.

 

Landing info pageAs you get closer, flip over the fold-out approach map to see additional information you will need before landing:

  • Other approach and navaid frequencies.
  • Approach notes: specific comments about things that are unique or unusual about the approach procedures at this airport.
  • Tower notes: specific comments about local procedures and nonstandard features of the airport.
  • Field elevation and pattern altitude (in MSL and AGL).
  • Diagram of the runways and traffic patterns.
  • Details on all runway lengths, widths, lighting, and obstacles.
  • Ground control and UNICOM frequencies.

 

Ground & departure info pageAfter you land, turn the page to see the information you'll need on the ground and for departure: 

  • Location of transient parking areas, including parking fee info.
  • Fueling information: brands, grades, vendors, islands, frequencies to call, etc.
  • Services available on the field, with key phone numbers.
  • Ground transportation: taxis, buses, and car rental agencies.
  • Food: restaurants on-airport and in the vicinity.
  • Lodging: hotels and motels, with special emphasis on those that offer airport pickup.
  • Nearby recreation and entertainment attractions.
  • Departure frequencies: ATIS, clearance, ground, tower, departure, FSS.
  • Departure procedures: normal departure routes and unique local departure procedures.

Airport map pageAnd on the facing page, you'll find a large airport map that shows:

  • All runways and taxiways.
  • Fueling and tiedown locations.
  • FBOs and other on-airport businesses.
  • Phones and restrooms.
  • Restaurants and hotels on the field.

Accompanying the airport map is a tabulation of all on-airport business, with phone numbers, UNICOM or ARINC frequencies, and complete details of the services they offer.

Just imagine how great it would be to have all this information on your next cross-country to a busy, unfamiliar airport!

Non-Tower Airports

Non-towered airport page Non-tower airports are presented in Pilots Guide in a similar fashion but in a much more compact format. The California guide devotes a half-page to each non-towered airport, while the Southwest guide devotes a full-page to each. The information for each non-towered airport includes: 

  • Locating the field:
    • Airport name, identifier, and coordinates.
    • North-facing photograph of the field.
    • Direction and distance from nearly airports and VORs.
    • Frequencies: UNICOM, FSS and Center or Approach.
    • Approach map of surrounding terrain and landmarks.
  • Traffic pattern and landing information:
    • Field elevation and pattern altitude.
    • Prevailing wind information.
    • Airport diagram showing:
      • Traffic patterns.
      • Runway lengths, widths, and lighting.
      • Taxiways.
      • FBOs, fueling, and parking locations.
      • Phones, restrooms, restaurants, motels.
    • Cautionary notes about the airport.
  • Services at the field:
    • Parking locations and fees.
    • Services: FBOs, phone numbers, fuel brands and grades, hours, repairs.
    • Transportation: taxis, buses, car rental.
    • Food: restaurants on-field and nearby.
    • Lodging: hotels and motels, with airport pickup info.
    • Local attractions: entertainment, recreation, camping, fishing, golf, etc.
    • Phone numbers: airport office, FSS, chamber of commerce, etc.

Revision Service

Each Pilots Guide is revised twice a year. Every six months, subscribers receive an envelope of new pages with instructions as to which pages to remove and replace. The $38.95 purchase price of Pilots Guide includes revision service for the first year after initial purchase. After the year is up, subcribers receive a renewal notice for the next 12-month period. Renewals for the revision service after the first year are $26.00 per year.

Accessories

Leather BinderPilots Guide Leather Binder
This won't make you a better pilot, but it might make your flying more enjoyable. Binders are hand made from natural cowhide, with the familiar Pilots Guide logo "branded" on the cover. Your name or identification (up to 16 characters) can be imprinted onto the front cover. Fits the California and Northwest Guides only — the Southwest Guide has too many pages to fit. $44.95.

Index TabsPilots Guide Color-Coded Index Tabs
Each set has five tabs, every one a different color. They fit all three Pilots Guides and also Jeppesen Airway Manuals. These tabs slip into the rings—without needing to open the rings—letting you flip instantly to the page you want. $5.95 for the set.


Order Your Pilots Guide On-Line!

Pilots Guides As I said at the outset, if you fly west of the Continental Divide, you simply must have these magnificent books! We've arranged with both Optima Publications and RGR Publications to let you purchase Pilots Guide to California Airports, Pilots Guide to Southwestern Airports, Pilots Guide to Northwestern Airports and Fun Places to Fly on-line right here...and help support continued free access to AVweb and AVflash in the process. This is a fabulous product and we really appreciate your patronage.

When you receive your copy of Pilots Guide, look it over, use it on a cross-country, put it through its paces. If you don't think it measures up to your expectations, return it within 30 days for a full and immediate refund.

But I can virtually guarantee that once you've tried Pilots Guide you'll never want to fly without it again!

Order your Pilots Guide on-line...

Pilots Guide to California Airports
Pilots Guide to Southwestern Airports
Pilots Guide to Northwestern Airports

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