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For frequent flyers

Helen Thomas
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Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
Reading the landscape
from the air


A European version or other regions is in order.

Next best thing


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Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
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When I used to fly a lot I always liked sitting in the window seat and trying to figure out where we were. If I still flew I would buy this book.


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Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
They have screens now to show where you are. Of course, the plane they use as a cursor is itself a half of state in size, so you can only figure where you are with 1/2 state precision. Still pretty cool.


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Helen Thomas
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Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
If the screens showed real images that would be cool.
static maps do not show the relief of the landscape really well
[ June 20, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
They have screens now to show where you are.

Depends on the airline and perhaps seating class I imagine. I don't recall seeing any such thing on my latest few flights. Then again, I think it's more fun to try to figure it out myself. I remember one time flying to Providence, RI (from Oakland, CA), falling asleep on the way. When I awoke I was surprised to find myself apparently heading out over the ocean. That is, I was over water, and I could see land behind me, but not in front of me. (It was daytime and visibility seemed pretty good.) To the best of my knowledge, there are no oceans between Oakland and Providence. Eventually I decided this was in fact Lake Michigan, and indeed more land did appear a short time later. Still, I was pretty impressed. I knew you couldn't see across Lake Michigan from the ground, but I had figured a plane was pretty high up, you ouht to be able to see the other side. Apparently not. I guess they don't call them the "Great Lakes" for nothing.

For fun, here is a good site for looking at what things look like from the air. (Or rather, beyond the air.) Courtesy of my current employer. Unfortunately it doesn't work with good web browsers; you have to use Internet Explorer. Hurm, I have to talk to someone about that. (Not that they'll necessarily listen, but what the heck...) For those who are curious, I live here. I also lived here during the event depicted. Well really I was offscreen in Tucson, but really we could look up from downtown Tucson and see the mountain burning; it was pretty impressive. Particularly fun jogging at night and seeing the fires. In daylinght it was generally less impressive. Usually. Except for the day the sky was orange. Very disturbing.

Anyway, enjoy browsing. Better images are available, but [ahem] you probaly have to pay for them. The target market isn't really private individuals.
[ June 21, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

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Warren Dew
blacksmith
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Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
I think the map screens are more dependent on how new the aircraft is. I've used them in economy class - though I'm not sure they convenience of the personal screen is really worth the partial loss of leg room to the box of electronics under the seat. They are pretty cool though - especially if you're on an airline that also lets you listen in on air traffic control.
Helen Thomas
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Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
They have screens now to show where you are.

Depends on the airline and perhaps seating class I imagine. I don't recall seeing any such thing on my latest few flights. Then again, I think it's more fun to try to figure it out myself.



Jim, I think it's those things you sometimes get to watch movies on. I know Unites Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have them. Cheap flights, cramped seating knees to chin.

As far as the map goes , you haven't missed much . Just shows a plane icon heading towards a destination and a line showing the flight path across the map from the departure point.

I'm surpriseed there aren't more murders committed for a window seat. If any.
[ June 21, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
I'm surpriseed there aren't more murders committed for a window seat. If any.

Yeah, quite surprising - I'd be willing to do the odd bit of GBH to get a window seat.

There's something deeply humbling about seeing the paraphernalia of mankind stretched out on the ground, and looking insignificant against what nature can do. To be up in the air and see our towns and cities that we are so proud of being little more than small stains on the ground really puts things into perspective.

The one thing I've seen that sums this up more than anything else was on a flight from London to The Gambia. It was the first time I'd ever flown so I was pretty impressed anyway, and had just seen the Pyrenees slide by. I didn't think anything could beat that, but a while later we flew along the Saharan coast. It was a totally breathtaking sight - on one side the ocean stretched off into the distance and on the other side the desert went to the horizon. The Saharan was wave after wave of sand that seemed to go on forever, made even more impressive when I realised that each one of the sand dunes could probably swallow up a three or four storey building. Coming from a country where there is little untamed nature left, the vast emptiness of the desert left me speechless. Against its vastness, everything humanity has done seemed so insignificant. Even now, years later, I'd still love to go there one day and spend some time out there in the desert - to see it "for real", rather than from an air-conditioned plane.
Ashok Mash
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Joined: Oct 13, 2000
Posts: 1936
Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
For fun, here is a good site for looking at what things look like from the air. (Or rather, beyond the air.) Courtesy of my current employer.


Excellent stuff, Thanks a million for sharing that link, Jim! Best free images I have ever seen!


[ flickr ]
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Warren Dew:
I think the map screens are more dependent on how new the aircraft is. I've used them in economy class - though I'm not sure they convenience of the personal screen is really worth the partial loss of leg room to the box of electronics under the seat. They are pretty cool though - especially if you're on an airline that also lets you listen in on air traffic control.


Depends on the airline too.
You're correct in thinking that they can't be fitted in all aircraft types, but even if they can be fitted an airline may or may not order the equipment (which costs money and weight (which is more money of course)).

And then it can be installed either in the seatback (which I fully agree is NOT nice, I don't want a flickering screen in front of my face while trying to sleep or read, it takes away legroom too) or using overhead monitors.


42
Shashank Tanksali
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Joined: Feb 21, 2001
Posts: 122
In addition to giving you a rough idea of where you are, the monitors keep showing lots of useless information like :

(a) The outside temperature at 30000 feet. - Never managed to figure out how that would be useful to anyone. Are they suggesting that it is cold outside and we should not try to peek out the window ?

(b) The current altitude. - Does it matter if we are cruising at 30000 feet or 31000 feet. Its not like we can survive a fall of 30000 feet but not 31000 feet.

(c) The current speed. - This is shown in terms of land speed. Never made any sense to me.

(d) The air pressure. - I would love to meet one person who found this information useful in some way.
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Shashank Tanksali:
In addition to giving you a rough idea of where you are, the monitors keep showing lots of useless information like :

(a) The outside temperature at 30000 feet. - Never managed to figure out how that would be useful to anyone. Are they suggesting that it is cold outside and we should not try to peek out the window ?

(b) The current altitude. - Does it matter if we are cruising at 30000 feet or 31000 feet. Its not like we can survive a fall of 30000 feet but not 31000 feet.

(c) The current speed. - This is shown in terms of land speed. Never made any sense to me.

(d) The air pressure. - I would love to meet one person who found this information useful in some way.


But how else will nerdy types entertain their friends if they dont have a large amount of pointless statistics to slip into the conversation?
Warren Dew
blacksmith
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Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
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Jeroen Wenting:

And then it can be installed either in the seatback (which I fully agree is NOT nice, I don't want a flickering screen in front of my face while trying to sleep or read, it takes away legroom too) or using overhead monitors.

Once I figured out how to turn them off on the airlines I was travelling, I didn't mind the screen itself.

I mind overhead monitors and movie screens a lot more, as they can't be turned off and are very distracting. Not to mention the pesky stewardesses who ask me to turn off my reading light so others can watch the silly movie better.

Regarding ground speed display - I think ground speed is displayed rather than air speed because the airlines think people are more interested in how much progress they are making in getting to the destination than in what direction the winds are blowing.
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
[Shashank]: I would love to meet one person who found this information useful in some way.

Well, there's the pilot. Most of that info is at least potentially relevant when you're flying, I think. Doesn't matter much to everyone else, I agree. But the info is readily available, so why not provide it? Perhaps it's been shown to reassure the passengers to some extent - see we're monitoring all these details very carefully, and as you see it's quite boring. So stop worrying about whether the plane will crash or something; everything is fine.

In this context, it's interesting that they don't provide a fuel indicator for the passengers to look at. I'm guessing that this would just create unnecessary tension in cases where this actually becomes an issue. E.g. if weather prevents a plane from landing, or forces one or more reroutes to alternate airports. Many passsengers would start looking very nervously at the fuel indicator. Better to have them looking at something unimportant, like altitude.

[Warren]: Regarding ground speed display - I think ground speed is displayed rather than air speed because the airlines think people are more interested in how much progress they are making in getting to the destination than in what direction the winds are blowing.

Agreed. If I saw an indication of airspeed, my first question would be, great, what does that mean relative to the ground? This may be the one stat displayed that's more relevant to passengers than to the pilot.
[ June 21, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
Richard Hawkes
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Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 1340
Better in-flight stats:

- A "Does the stewardess fancy you or just keeps smiling because its her job" indicator would be useful (pretty static that one).

- Pilot and co-pilot sleep and blood/alcohol levels might be interesting.

- Minutes cut from in-flight film vs. passenger comprehension of plot.
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Richard Hawkes:
Better in-flight stats:

- A "Does the stewardess fancy you or just keeps smiling because its her job" indicator would be useful (pretty static that one).

- Pilot and co-pilot sleep and blood/alcohol levels might be interesting.

- Minutes cut from in-flight film vs. passenger comprehension of plot.



How about:

- A percentage chance that your luggage will turn up at the correct location

- An indicator of the number of people queuing for the loo

- A percentage of the in flight meal that is actually what it says it is and not flavoured liquidised cardboard.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Shashank Tanksali:
In addition to giving you a rough idea of where you are, the monitors keep showing lots of useless information like :

(a) The outside temperature at 30000 feet. - Never managed to figure out how that would be useful to anyone. Are they suggesting that it is cold outside and we should not try to peek out the window ?

(b) The current altitude. - Does it matter if we are cruising at 30000 feet or 31000 feet. Its not like we can survive a fall of 30000 feet but not 31000 feet.

(c) The current speed. - This is shown in terms of land speed. Never made any sense to me.

(d) The air pressure. - I would love to meet one person who found this information useful in some way.


(a) bit useless, but interesting once you start descending. When close to the destination airport you get some indication of weather conditions there.

(b) of interest to aviation enthusiasts. As they have he info anyway why not show it? Doesn't cost them anything.

(c) see (b). IAS or Mach number (which used to be shown on Concorde) would be fun for people who know what it means but the average Joe would think he was flying at only 250mph when the meter shows 250 knots indicated. Showing you're going 900kmh is a lot more impressive and means something to them.

(d) see (b). Never seen this myself on the screens, but again they have it anyway.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
If you find it fascinating to know where your flight is, how about knowing where the flights of complete strangers are:

http://www.passur.com/sites.htm

It uses Java, at least.
 
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subject: For frequent flyers