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What's under my plane?
March 10, 2011 8:33 AM   Subscribe

As your airline takes you from Point A to Point B, do you ever wonder about all the points in between? Enter MondoWindow (in beta today), which mashes up satellite photos, air traffic data, wikipedia, and flickr to show where your plane is, and what's nearby on the earth below, provided your flight has wifi.

The site was conceived by Greg Dicum, whose 2010 book Window Seat was a visual guide to aerial landscapes. It's also fun to use even of you're on the ground; plug in any flight information or let the site pick a random flight heading to one of several destinations.

And, as CNET notes, the developers are keenly aware of how much dreck there is on flickr, so they plan to offer a "no-kitty" setting so you don't have to look at everyone's cat pics.
posted by underthehat (17 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is great. I'd love to use this in the air.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:39 AM on March 10, 2011


On one of my frequent business trips, i had an idea for something like this that would be a HUD on the actual window of the plane. It would need to 'read' where your eyes were to adjust the positioning of the information, but that can't be too difficult to manage. I always thought it would be cool to look out the window and have cities, highways, and landmarks marked as we flew over.

Since i will never officially do anything with this idea, i submit it to the interwebs in hopes that someone makes it a reality. I only request that you don't mind my constantly reminding everyone that it was 'really my idea' after you've made your millions.
posted by jadayne at 8:46 AM on March 10, 2011


Ah, when this kind of app really matures my practice of cruising Google Maps and Earth after a flight to try to find what I saw out the window will be kind of be redundant.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 AM on March 10, 2011


For years, before airplane wifi and portable gps, I wished for a seatback display called "window seat" that showed images (taken on clear days) and facts about what we were flying over, with no pesky clouds or wings in the way.
posted by pernoctalian at 8:55 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is cool - I love looking out the window and trying to figure out where I am and what I'm looking at.
posted by jpdoane at 9:04 AM on March 10, 2011


Did Balcones develop this? Right now I'm looking at tessellation cracks in Texas. I bet it's Balcones' fault.
posted by hanoixan at 9:06 AM on March 10, 2011


I normally use WestJet when I am flying around in Canada, and they have no wifi but they do have individual televisions, and one channel has a map with a little airplane icon to show where you are, and sometimes the route is shown with a red line from origin to destination, and it flips between small regional maps with airports and suburbs marked on them when the plane is over cities to bigger ones that show several provinces at once. I can never use airplane time to watch actual TV because the map channel is too fascinating.
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:10 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I normally use WestJet when I am flying around in Canada, and they have no wifi but they do have individual televisions, and one channel has a map with a little airplane icon to show where you are, and sometimes the route is shown with a red line from origin to destination, and it flips between small regional maps with airports and suburbs marked on them when the plane is over cities to bigger ones that show several provinces at once. I can never use airplane time to watch actual TV because the map channel is too fascinating.

I am with you on this, but I would quibble with the mention of the icon as "little" I am looking at a photo right now that I took of the screen toward the end a Calgary-Hamilton flight a few months ago.

The map shows North America with a superimposed airplane. The nose of the plane is in Lake Erie, the tail somewhere around Duluth, the right wingtip over Indianapolis and the left wingtip somewhere north of Sault Ste.-Marie. This is a map which tells me I am somewhere over the eastern half of North America.

If you get a chance to fly JAL, do so: as well as the GPS channel, most of the flights I have been on also have cameras in the nose and the belly, feeding to the passenger seatback TVs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:26 AM on March 10, 2011


It wouldn't take much modification for Google to modify their Google Earth app on the iPad. Just use GPS, the gyroscope in the new models, and compass, and you could have a magic window you could move around to see through the floor/fuselage.
posted by floam at 9:32 AM on March 10, 2011


The map shows North America with a superimposed airplane. The nose of the plane is in Lake Erie, the tail somewhere around Duluth, the right wingtip over Indianapolis and the left wingtip somewhere north of Sault Ste.-Marie. This is a map which tells me I am somewhere over the eastern half of North America.

Haha, yes. There should be a "NOT TO SCALE" notice. (I took that very flight a couple of weeks ago!)
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:06 AM on March 10, 2011


I've marked a point on a handheld GPS when I took a picture from the plane, and then checked it later on Google Earth. What I can see out the window at cruising altitude is about ten miles from the plane's GPS coordinates.

It's helped me identify things like a notorious flyash dump site south of Pittsburgh (yikes, what is that glowing blue thing?)
posted by pernoctalian at 10:35 AM on March 10, 2011


Vegas to St. Louis in the late afternoon, I always make sure I'm on the right side of the plane behind the wing. Seeing Monument Valley at 25k feet is awesome. Before and after, I try to take pictures and then fly around Google Earth to figure out where we were.
posted by notsnot at 10:53 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always listen to the air traffic control. A highlight is one time the pilot of my plane chatted with the pilot of Marine One, who was somewhere in the airspace, at the time.

(Marine One is the designated name for the helicopter on which the POTUS is riding at the time.)
posted by Danf at 11:06 AM on March 10, 2011


provided your flight has wifi

Slashdot: Wi-Fi Shown To Interfere With Aircraft Systems

Great timing on these articles.

And can we never use "kitty" in that context ever again? Pretty please?
posted by tapesonthefloor at 12:12 PM on March 10, 2011


Can there be a "no-kitty" setting for the entire internet?
posted by ericbop at 12:48 PM on March 10, 2011


This thread needs The Big Country.

I see the shapes
I remember from maps...

posted by Meatbomb at 5:29 PM on March 10, 2011


I flew a Lufthansa A380 from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, and it had 3 different camera views, including forward from up the tail, in a wide angle. It was quite awesome, until we got above the clouds and it was dark. And we had to sleep. But I find the map showing where we are etc., a very real comfort. I feel better having ready access to that information.

This particular package sounds nice, but I wonder how shallow the content will be kept.
posted by Goofyy at 11:52 AM on March 11, 2011


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