My recent discovery of 3D airspace maps from 3Dairspace.org is one of the coolest things I have seen in awhile. Small UAV operators may find airspace confusing and FAA sectionals difficult to interpret. While the 3D airspace map inside Google Earth is no substitute for reading current sectional charts, it does serve as a great interpretation and visual aid. (Notice that in the example screenshot that Knoxville Downtown Island (DKX) airport (Class D airspace) is not shown.) To use the 3D airspace map, follow the link to 3Dairpace.org, and click on the country of interest to download the KMZ file. If in the U.S., the file is named “united_states.kmz.” Provided Google Earth is loaded on your computer, you only need double-click to launch the map inside Google Earth. Search for your area of interest as you normally would and find that you are now able to see airspace classifications in 2D or 3D. Clicking on the airspace provides a nice explanatory pop-up.
My next amazing discovery is that the FAA provides free geoTIFF files of its sectional charts. For those of us using CAD in conjunction with GPS, the geoTIFF is an extremely useful tool. Inserting the geoTIFF into my CAD program allows me to see the exact position position of my project on the sectional chart. This ability is especially nice to have when close to an airspace boundary. The FAA provides a zip file containing the geoTIFF, an HTML help file, and a TFW positioning file. Moreover, I can now simply download and use the latest sectional rather than purchasing hard copies from the FAA as I have done in the past. Printing small sections of my area of interest is perfectly adequate for sUAV purposes, though a color printer is advisable.
Below is a portion of the geoTIFF showing McGhee Tyson Airport.