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Reading a sectional when you're... "color deficient"


Hedge36
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This has been an ongoing problem for me and a few others I've met. I have a red/green deficiency, which essentially means I can't find the numbers in the red/green charts - just a big smattering of dots with no discernible pattern.

 

Now, when it comes to differentiating airspace boundaries on a sectional, this can be a real problem. It's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the magenta and blue, whether they're dithered or dashed, so obviously I do my best to use context to get a feel for what boundaries I see.

 

Some folks have speculated that different colored filters - say, little pieces of tinted plastic, like on 3D glasses - might help in this regard. I'm going to start with a pair (ever try to find some ad hoc?) to see what happens, but in the meantime I have to assume that plenty of people have faced this one down.

 

Tips?

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How about if you mark out your own airspaces with colors or patterns that you do recognize when you get your new sectional for the area that you're flying in. Get another person to help you discern the colors once, and once they're marked to your specifications you can go it alone, that will work until you have to ferry a chopper long distance at least.

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TRY THIS!. WWW.COLORMAX.ORG.

 

Also here is how a student of mine did it.

 

Class E starting at 700 feet will always be in the immediate vicinity surrounding an airport, or airports. circle, square etc...

 

Class E starting at 1200 feet will usually border on victor airways and airspace not in the immediate vicinity of the airport. It is usually the irregular shaped faded lines outside of the class E starting at 700'.

 

MEMORY TIP: Smaller the number the closer to the airport it is. 700' surrounds and 1200' does not.

 

Class E to the surface V.S. Class D. - This is the easiest to correct for. Class D will always have a ceiling designator (the box that tells you the ceiling limits) & a control tower frequency.

 

Class E to the surface will not have a control tower frequency, only a CTAF and will not have a ceiling designator.

 

Class B vs. Class C - Class B will always have a 30 NM vail around it. Remember the Vail will be an equal distance around the primary airport. Class B also has a label.

 

Class C - Class C is also Labeled. Class C uses a Lighter line and Will NOT have the 30 NM Vail.

 

 

These techniques work great.

 

Good Luck!

Edited by CFIAP5544
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Quick question. Have you been to the AME for your flight physical? If not they will test you with color charts. If it is a problem when you go there you can apply for a SODA. Basically you will have to do a light gun test where you identify different light gun colors. Red, white and green.

 

JD

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CFIAP5544: Thanks for the info. I'll have to see if I can find a specialist closer to me, but it's good to know they exist.

 

JD: Having been given a pass by various MEs over the years, I found The One late last year who hardly checked me for anything... but when he pulled out the cards and I said "you might as well put those away", he decided to get picky about it. CAMI should be sending me the letter today to schedule me for the test at my local FSDO. Meanwhile I've always squeaked by on sectional colors and have decided to really nail it down now that the issue has come up - since it will never, ever go away from here on out.

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Hedge36,

 

I have the same problem with the color deficiency as you do and I use my wife or someone else to help me read my sectional charts. CFIAP5544 has the right idea with going to colormax.org but the FAA medical office told me that you can use sunglasses for the sun but they can not be used to help correct a color deficiency. You can not rely on glasses to help see colors. It's a stupid rule!!! Also if you fail the signal gun test at your local airport you will not be allowed to retest as they told me too many people have cheated on the test the second time around. I have a limitation on my second class medical that states: " Not valid for flights requiring color signal control during daylight hours". I passed my test for the night but not for the day as the white and green were too hard for me to see. My test was done just before dark, as it was getting dark (dusk) and after well after dark and I did mine at the Spokane International Airport in Spokane,WA. I also found that a pair of my Suncloud sunglasses worked well for me to see the reds and greens a lot better. The color of thes glasses is a rose petal, so you might try a pair of sunglasses with the rose petal or some shade thereof to try and help you block out the sun if you know what I mean. Hope this helps.

 

CFIAP5544,

 

Tell your student thanks for me as I will use this information to help me as well.

 

Steve

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Almost forgot. I did my testing in June of 2003 and found out about colormax in November of 2003 and that is when I was told you cannot wear clolored lenses to help correct your eyesight in anyway. Things may have changed by now. Good luck and keep me informed as to what you find out please.

Thanks,

 

Steve

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Almost forgot. I did my testing in June of 2003 and found out about colormax in November of 2003 and that is when I was told you cannot wear clolored lenses to help correct your eyesight in anyway. Things may have changed by now. Good luck and keep me informed as to what you find out please.

Thanks,

 

Steve

 

Wilco. I've got a night hop tomorrow, I think just for fun I'll have my friendly local controller give me an unofficial test before I go to FSDO.

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This is an interesting topic. When I had my first (and only) flight physical a few years ago, I barely passed the color vision test. He tested me using the cards with dots that are supposed to form numbers. I could see red dots and green dots, but still found it tough to pick out the numbers. I took a stab at what the numbers were, and apparently didn't do very well. He had to go and check on what the rules were for how many you could get wrong and still pass! It turns out you were allowed to get 5 wrong (from memory) and I got 4 wrong - yikes, very close!

 

I can tell the difference between the blue and magenta on charts, and aircraft position lights (yellow on the left, white on the right... right?? ;) ) but I sure have trouble picking out those stupid numbers.

 

The AME told me that I would only be tested on color vision that one time, as it was not something that changes with time - you either have color vision or you don't. I have since been told by other pilots that they have been tested at every flight physical. Anyone ever heard of only being tested once? I'm kind of nervous because I was so close to failing last time.

 

What if you get a SODA - is that a one time deal or every flight physical?

 

If you do get a SODA, does that look bad when it comes to employment applications? I've seen some job ads that specifically state "no medical limitations"

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  • 13 years later...
On 10/17/2008 at 12:28 PM, Hedge36 said:

This has been an ongoing problem for me and a few others I've met. I have a red/green deficiency, which essentially means I can't find the numbers in the red/green charts - just a big smattering of dots with no discernible pattern.

 

Now, when it comes to differentiating airspace boundaries on a sectional, this can be a real problem. It's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the magenta and blue, whether they're dithered or dashed, so obviously I do my best to use context to get a feel for what boundaries I see.

 

Some folks have speculated that different colored filters - say, little pieces of tinted plastic, like on 3D glasses - might help in this regard. I'm going to start with a pair (ever try to find some ad hoc?) to see what happens, but in the meantime I have to assume that plenty of people have faced this one down.

 

Tips?

I share your frustration here. Not sure why the sectionals use such “close” colors, making them virtually indistinguishable when they’re on a sectional.  I just started using Foreflight on my iphone and i can easily distinguish the proper colors on the sectionals.  I see blue class b with no issue and i see magenta as a nice high contrast pink. I just ordered an ipad mini and i hope and expect the same result. 

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