April 27th, 2005


in-flight google

I'm typing this entry on the flight home, while enjoying one of my favorite new tech toy discoveries ever!

On the flight out to California last week, I looked forward to looking at Google Maps after I landed, to use their nifty new easy-panning satellite view to identify things I'd seen from the plane. I made mental note of features I wanted to identify, and approximately where they were. After I landed, for example, I was quite pleased to locate this lake and funny landbridge, just west of Granby and Simsbury, CT (where fyfer and my ex Leah were from).

Shortly before the flight back home today, I had a thought: When I pan around Google's satellite view, it feels like it's caching what I look at. When I scroll into new areas, it loads from the net, and when I scroll back to places I've just looked it, it doesn't go to the net again until I zoom. Could I preload my flight route, before getting on the plane?

I can!

Usually I rely on memories from the ground. I know most of the roads, and remember the general shape and color of the land - where the mountains are, the farms, the major lakes and rivers. I can estimate location pretty well by looking at the clock, knowing that most flights go about 500mph (460-530). This method works pretty well for identifying roads and cities, and for knowing more or less which state I'm over. But there are always plenty of features I wonder about. Now, instead of trying to figure it out later, I can follow along on google as I fly.

(one thing that would make this work much better, is if google supplied a map scale, so I could estimate how far to scroll in areas where there are no obvious markers like lakes or cities)

This is a particularly cool area to fly over. [Added after landing: I was on the right side of the plane, with a great view ot the huge mountains in the southwest corner of Wyoming, and the Flaming Gorge national recreation area. I've driven I-80 across just north of those mountains a couple of times; I've never been to Flaming Gorge. We passed just north of the upper tip of the lake, where it splits, so I got a close-up of the whole thing.]

This makes me so happy!