by Hal Davis
WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
I like a good map. I like to know where I am, where I’m going and what’s around me. Whether in the air or on the ground, good situational awareness is important. With the advent of GPS navigation and smart phones, the days of paper maps and charts are numbered, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Google Earth and applications like it are powerful tools. In particular, they can be used as platforms to view endless amounts of third-party data.
If you too are an enthusiast of aviation and maps, the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics has a data set that you may find useful. Known as the airport reference points, when imported into Google Earth or ArcGIS, this data set depicts all public-use airports and seaplane bases in Wisconsin. In addition, all private-use airports, seaplane bases, heliports and ultralight fields are also displayed. If you find an airport that interests you, click on it, and additional information about that particular airport will appear. For example, contact information is available if you want to call the airport to find out more about current field conditions and services offered. Whether flying to an unfamiliar part of the state or just curious about where the closest seaplane base is to your home, this data set can be a helpful resource.
To view the airport reference point data you first need Google Earth which is available for free at www.google.com/earth. Next, visit the airport reference point web page at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/air/arp.htm and download the “kmz” file. Once downloaded, open the file, and it should automatically appear in Google Earth.
If you have questions or technical difficulties, call our office at 608-266-3351 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.