While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I stumbled upon this TNW article that features an app that would be interesting during long flights. I don’t know what your definition of long flights is, but for me, it’s generally 14-16 hours.
This past October, I flew to Salt Lake City to attend the annual Grand Meetup of Automattic. It’s a yearly meetup where all of the employees come together to actually socialize in person — something we don’t get to do that much because of the remote nature of the job.
When at the meetup, one of the common topics my colleagues were interested in hearing was my long flights from the home country. From Dhaka to Salt Lake City, it took about 35 hours including the layovers. Just in case you’re interested, here’s the itinerary I had for the October meetup.
I flew from Dhaka to Abu Dhabi via Etihad Airways. The flight was about 5 hours long. In Abu Dhabi airport, I had approximately 8-hour long layover. The next flight to Los Angeles was 16 hours long. And that’s my definition of long flights. Of course, my final destination was not Los Angeles, so I had another 2 hours of flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand, from the TNW article, the Flyover Country app sounds interesting to me. I usually don’t find anything interesting to watch on the in-flight entertainment system. During my last trip, I was lucky enough to have pretty good WiFi connectivity on the plane. So I wasn’t bored at all, thanks to the connection to the outside world.
However, the upcoming flights in May do not have in-flight WiFi, which means I have to gather resources for my mental survival during those flights. The article couldn’t have come sooner for me.
The idea of Flyover Country is similar to that of the in-flight entertainment’s GPS view. Usually, unless you turn off the monitor in front of you, you will see various information regarding the aircraft’s current global position, airspeed, outside temperature, ground temperature, etc.
The Flyover Country app apparently takes it a step further. From the app’s Play Store page:
Flyover Country is a National Science Foundation funded offline mobile app for geoscience outreach and data discovery. The app exposes interactive geologic maps from Macrostrat.org, fossil localities from Neotomadb.org and Paleobiodb.org, Wikipedia articles, offline base maps, and the user’s current GPS determined location, altitude, speed, and heading. The app analyzes a given flight path and caches relevant map data and points of interest (POI), and displays these data during the flight, without in flight wifi. By downloading only the data relevant to a particular flightpath, cache sizes remain reasonable, allowing for a robust experience without an internet connection.
Now, that is interesting. More so because it works offline! This is definitely an app that I want to have on my phone before I board the next plane out of the country.
I talked about long flights, but it won’t hurt if you have a relatively short flight from one place to another and if you want to learn more about what’s below on the ground as you fly the plane. So, whether you’re on Android or iOS, go ahead and install the app while you still remember.
I’ll post a short review of the app after I’ve used it on the next bunch of flights in the beginning of May. If you get the chance to try it before that, and yes, you can try it without being on a plane, do let me know what you think about the app.