FAA pilot's manual

I came across an amazing gem of retro graphic design and illustration not too long ago. I don’t mean to startle anyone, but not only is it deliciously retro, but apparently the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) still thinks it’s perfectly good to keep on using as their current manual for Aviation Weather For Pilots and Flight Operations Personnel. No but really, it’s still on their site ready as ever to be downloaded for consumption.

I mean, I suppose there’s no reason to change it though; the information about weather and flying probably hasn’t changed much since 1975. In fact, they make a point about it’s history and editions in the preface, which will no doubt serve as a viable excuse for this antiquated manuscript to remain a main resource for many, many more years to come:

“The publication began in 1943 as CAA Bulletin No. 25, “Meteorology for Pilots,” which at the time contained weather knowledge considered essential for most pilots. But as aircraft flew farther, faster, and higher and as meteorological knowledge grew, the bulletin became obsolete. It was revised in 1954 as “Pilots’ Weather Handbook” and again in 1965 under its present title.

All these former editions suffered from one common problem. They dealt in part with weather services which change continually in keeping with current techniques and service demands. Therefore, each edition became somewhat outdated almost as soon as published; and its obsolescence grew throughout the period it remained in print.

To alleviate this problem, the new authors have completely rewritten this edition streamlining it into a clear, concise, and  readable book and omitting all reference to specific weather services. Thus, the text will remain valid and adequate for many years.”

Indeed. It’s very efficient.

I’m in love with the exaggerated expressions on the illustrated characters, the limited tri-color palette, and the design decisions made based on that restriction. Having a lot more flexibility in this day and age to create documents like this both quickly and easily, I do admire the painstaking effort that must have gone into creating this manuscript. I does make me count my blessings that I get to work on a computer instead of a typewriter, but am also sad because there is something about this document that is so full of character that I just don’t see in most of the design work that surrounds us these days.

I hope you enjoy this little find. I’m showcasing a few of my favorite samples from the book, but by all means, please download it yourself to see it in its full glory, or perhaps you can catch a copy of your own out there, still in hard copy.