# How does one determine the elevation on a sectional?

(Refer to figure 21) How does one determine the elevation variation of the light tan area between Minot (area 1) and Audubon Lake (area 2)?

A. 2,000 ft to 2,500 ft MSL.

B. 2,000 ft to 2,700 ft MSL.

C. sea level to 2,000 ft MSL.

I want to thank everyone for the help. I made an 88 on my Drone certification that I took today (10/11/2018)

• Welcome to the site. I have now added descriptive titles to your two questions, moving on please make sure the title describes the problem. Good luck and hopefully you'll find your answers more easily from the chart guide.
– user14897
Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 1:08

If you review the information from the FAA Chart User's Guide referenced above in ymb1's answer, and compare what is stated with regard to contours (i.e. "basic contours are spaced at 500' intervals") answer choice "A" becomes more obvious.

(the tan color in question, according to the chart's legend, indicates that the terrain is between 2000' and 3000')

Look at the magnified portions of the sectional chart below and notice that the contour is 2000'. Because there is not a contour line displayed within the area in question depicting a higher elevation than 2000' you can then infer that there is no terrain elevation at least 2500'. Therefore, the terrain elevation within the area in question is at least 2000' but less than 2500', making answer choice "A" the only possible correct response.

• Thanks for pointing out the 2000 near the green areas, I didn't notice that at all and I will not forget it in the future. Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 2:58

The answer is A. The FAA chart user's guide is your friend here:

Simply check the scale, that already tells you it's 2000-3000 feet. Then look for contour lines, there aren't any, then it's 2000-2500 feet.

You seem to be asking two different questions: a) how to determine terrain elevation on a sectional, and b) what is the correct answer to this FAA test question?

First, there are multiple ways to determine terrain elevation on a sectional, as the FAA's Chart User's Guide says:

Our Aeronautical Information Specialists are devoted to showing the contour of the earth and any obstructions clearly and accurately on our charts. We use five different techniques: contour lines, shaded relief, color tints, obstruction symbols, and Maximum Elevation Figures (MEF).

In addition to those five things, sectionals also show airport elevations, perennial lake elevations and spot elevations (and maybe others). You can find details of all those things in the Guide.

Second, what's the correct answer to that specific test question? Others have already answered that, but I suspect that the FAA is expecting you to use multiple methods, e.g. use the logic from ymb1's very neat answer, confirmed by looking at obstacle elevations and MEFs. But that's my own speculation, I don't know for sure how they think you should determine the elevation. The main point is just that there are multiple ways to do it, depending on what features and information are on the specific sectional area that you're looking at.

As you thanked us in advance, I apologize in advance for this answer as I don't really know but this is my hunch.

Since it is tan, the key says it is between 2000' and 3000'. Then, from what I can tell there are peaks every now and then. If you look at the peak west of Minot it reads 2526' while the one next to Audubon Lake reads 2267'. Just to make it more accurate, I would also take into account the peak in the middle that is 2511' . I would then average these and see where it fits. This averages out to ~2434.66'. Thus my answer would be A.

• seems like a good hunch. Hopefully someone will verify. thanks again. Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 0:31
• Ya no problem. Tbh I'm in highschool and I'm taking an aeronautics class, but we haven't don't stuff like that yet. Soooo.... :P Well Good luck on your test. Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 0:32
• But I notice something now, the area around Audubon lake is green, meaning that its elevation is lower. Between 1000 and 2000. So I am probably wrong. Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 0:33
• Unless the question, is only referring to the tan area, in which my answer might still be correct. Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 0:34
• Oh, the answer was A. 2000 to 2500, but I still need verification if it's done the way you thought or if there is another way to determine it. Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 0:49