If you are like me, you just love Google Earth. But you know that The Google can be like digital heroin, highly addictive but oh so much fun. And no, I've never even seen heroin, wouldn't know the stuff if you dropped a dime bag on my head.
One of the things I like about Google Earth is something called “mashups', which is the by-product that comes from the marriage of some sort of digital data with Google Earth's data. The kind of mashups out there are truly endless, and I suspect that right now, if you really had to know the physical address of everyone who has order pepperoni pizzas online from Pizza Hut in the last five minutes – in real time – some geek would have thrown together findpizzaorders.com which delivers the mashup.
But pizzas are not airplanes, so that site wouldn't matter in my world. But this one does:
One really outstanding mashup I found tonight is courtesy of FBOweb, a very good site that has a bunch of really nice information. One thing FBOweb offers is real-time inbound IFR flights to any airport that accepts commercial IFR traffic. A few years ago, I create a mashup of this data, long before the term “mashup” has even been invented. Go here to see what IFR traffic is inbound to a bunch of big US airports.Something else FBOweb offers is an amazing mashup that tracks flights via Google Earth. You can specify a particular flight and watch it fly over real terrain, or click large airports and track all traffic around say, LAX or JFK. Oh, but it gets better:
If you are adept at using Google Earth, you can pan and zoom around until you get basically a side view of the aircraft's track. It shows up as a series of 3D lines, showing the plane's vertical situation. Click on the little airplane icon, and you also get the plane's altitude, and even the IFR clearance and route of flight. And if you turn your mouse sideways and tap it three times, you get the phone number of the flight attendant. O.K., kidding about that last one.So if you have some time, go play on The Google and watch some airplanes...just don't blame me if you start missing appointments, or your wife starts asking who the hell you are when you finally show up in her bed.