VFR Sectional SUA Symbology

Staring at an American VFR Sectional, it’s nice to know what to look for in the category of, “Things denoting places I shouldn’t be”. Here’s a primer:

MOAs On VFR Sectional charts, an MOA is denoted by a hatched magenta line surrounding the area. On the inside cover or bottom margin of your sectional, you’ll see a Special Use Airspace (SUA) section legend. MOAs are listed at the bottom of this legend, separate from all other SUAs, in magenta ink, along with the altitude at which and time the MOAs are used and the controlling agency. The altitude listed on the sectional refers to the “floor”, or lowest altitude, of the MOA, and the MOA will extend to but not include flight level 180 unless otherwise indicated on the chart.

Warning Areas Warning Areas are marked with a hatched dark blue line on sectionals, and listed in a section combined with SUAs other than MOAs. Next to the Hatched Blue line on your chart will be a number (for example, on the Jacksonville, FL sectional, a large one is W-497A). This refers to the SUA legend, where you will see the Warning Area, the affected altitudes, times of use, and controlling agency information.

Restricted Areas Again, denoted by a hatched dark blue line and referring to the SUA legend in the margin, Restricted Areas are numbered (see R-2932 on Jacksonville Sectional), and the SUA legend contains affected altitudes, times of use, and controlling agency information.

Prohibited Areas Again, denoted by a hatched dark blue line and referring to the SUA legend in the margin, Prohibited Areas are numbered (see P-47on Dallas-Ft Worth Sectional or P-56 on Washington Sectional), and the SUA legend contains affected altitudes, times of use, and controlling agency information. Many are continuously restricted, supplemented by NOTAMS (Notices to Airmen) issued from time to time expanding the territory covered. For example, during the Presidential Inauguration or the 50th Anniversary of NATO, the P-56 area was expanded to cover essentially the entire Washington, DC area.