During your training for your initial pilot certificate, you will learn to interpret aeronautical charts and gather information from chart supplement publications (formerly known as the Airport / Facility Directory).
In days gone by, fixed base operators and flight schools would carry these printed materials, and you could count on being able to get the current chart at the airport you flew out of. But, with the advent of touchscreen tablets and electronic flight bag apps, its hard to find a chart or pub unless you order them from an online retailer.
For your initial training, you will learn to interpret charts first using the printed version, and will then be subsequently introduced to web-based charting programs as well as tablet-based electronic flight bags. This simplifies the acquisition of chart interpretation and flight planning skills because you also don’t need to learn how an app works at the same time. You’ll also need to have experience with the printed materials because tablets have batteries that drain, turn off when they get too hot, or can be affected by bugs in updates. You can choose to stick with the printed materials during the entirety of your training, or choose to also learn an app as well, but it will add to the volume of information and skills you must learn during training.
Please order the current edition of the San Francisco Sectional Chart and the Chart Supplement Southwest U.S. from an online retailer.
Note: there is also a San Francisco Terminal Area Chart. This type of chart is for navigating around complex Class B Airspace. While we will use this chart later in training, you don’t need it at the beginning of training.
Here are a few suggestions for online chart retailers:
Sectional charts are updated roughly every six months, and chart supplements are updated every 56 days. You will need to have current editions of these throughout your training. You could place a new order every time these publications are updated, but you might find it useful to place a subscription order so that the new editions will be sent to automatically.