Airport Data (and more) Your Way: Flight Guide evolves from paper to electronic data

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I’ve been a Flight Guide user for longer than I can remember. For many years one of the iconic little brown loose-leaf binders covering the Western States had a place in my flight bag—and more than once came in very handy when I needed to find an airport with a nearby hotel or restaurant.

To be honest, I was a little annoyed when Flight Guide switched to the current larger format for its paper product. It now takes two of the larger throwaway spiral bound books to cover the same area—but the larger format is easier to read, so at least one of those books still flies with me on every cross-country trip.

While the books are extremely well laid out, with a detailed diagram and notes for every public-use airport (and less detailed but still useful information for low-use and military fields) in the coverage area, they have always suffered from two problems.

The first is that unless you buy and carry all the books, you won’t have coverage for the entire country. That’s an issue if a flight takes you outside your coverage area. On my two trips to Oshkosh from the Left Coast, I’ve used Flight Guide for the start and end of the trip, then switched to AOPA’s Airport Directory (which isn’t nearly as detailed).

The second issue is common to any paper-based source for aviation information: it can easily get out of date. The current spiral-bound books are updated annually, and quite a lot can change in a year. Flight Guide deals with that by offering a web-based online version that’s available on its own for $19 per region, or free with the paper-based version (which sells for $24.95 per region).

The trouble with a web-based service is that you can’t access it in the air—which is where I’ve found Flight Guide most useful. Of course you can continue to carry the paper version (as I do) but that tends to get out of date. To get the best of both, you’d need a way to get an electronic version of the data on a device that you can carry with you.

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