What to do with expired aeronautical charts?
The special aeronautical charts (aka maps) used by pilots have expiration dates. Dates vary between every 56 days to every two years depending on the chart. Mountains don't generally change much but antenna towers, roads, and sometimes even airports and towns do. Sometimes the radio frequencies for control towers change or airspace boundaries move. So the charts get updated.
When my charts expire I have to buy new ones. That means at least every couple of months I am having to buy something new. Most pilots just throw away the old charts. But they are so densely packed with cool information that I hate to just throw them in the trash. I recently noticed that I had a stack of expired charts about a foot high and wondered what I should do with them.
When I was a little kid I liked playing with Flight Simulator on the computer. Someone gave me a copy of an aeronautical chart to use with the flight simulator software and as a Junior High School kid I was making simulated cross country flights. By the time I started training to be a "real" pilot I already knew most of what I needed to read a chart and navigate. I think it would be cool to help out some other kids with their interest in aviation (sort of like paying back the good karma that came to me when I was a kid). So I bundled up the charts into useful sets (typically a Los Angeles sectional, Los Angeles Terminal, San Diego Terminal, IFR enroute covering SoCal, and book of instrument approach procedures covering SoCal per set). Then I placed an ad in the Free section of the San Diego Craig's List. I really don't know many kids who play with the flight sims anymore and it isn't generally considered nearly as cool as it once was to be a pilot so I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested.
Over the next few hours my inbox was full of people willing to drive across town to pick up a set. Mostly for their own kids, as well as a couple inactive pilots looking for study materials to get back into it, and one youth pastor looking for something cool to put up on the walls of his classroom.
All of the chart sets are now spoken for and given away. Hopefully there will be a lot of happy kids out there this evening.