In celebration of the 100th anniversary of passenger air travel, UK newspaper The Guardian has developed a fascinating interactive website showing you every plane in the air right now. This website makes you feel like an air traffic controller as you see thousands of dots on a map of the globe, each one representing an airplane in flight.
To get started, head to the Guardian’s In Flight website and click on the map to explore.
The website actually has four parts:
- Mapping the planes
- History of aviation
- How passenger aviation has grown
- What’s ahead for the future
Each part is interactive with features to click, audio and animation.
In the first part of the website you learn that at any given time 1/2 million of the world’s population is airborne. You can see the dots turn into lines as you follow the flight paths of each airplane. The information is current but you can see what’s been in the air during the past 24 hours.
As you watch the flight paths progress the audio explains that the information is based on live data from flightstats.com that includes flight delays. You can see which continents have the most air traffic and which have relatively little.
You can adjust the map by clicking the + and – buttons in the upper left corner of the screen to zoom in and out on a region and clicking on the Stop button to pause the action. You can also click on Show to reveal the time zones around the world. Switch back and forth between planes and routes to see the different perspectives of world-wide flight.
Birth of an Industry
In part 2 of the site you experience a narrated slide show about the first passenger plane flight from between Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida back in 1914. When you see how that airline was run 100 years ago you’ll realize how far aviation has progressed.
A Century of Growth
Part 3 demonstrates how aviation has experienced exponential growth in the past century, fueled both by passenger demand and by military conflicts. You can scroll along a graph to see how many passenger airline tickets were sold each year.
You’ll also find out fun facts such as that a flight from England to Australia in 1935 took 10 1/2 days to complete. During the past 50 years aviation has morphed from a luxury mode of transportation for the wealthy to a means of mass transportation for the general public. You’ll also see that the number of tickets sold last year was twice the number sold a decade ago.
Hitting the Limits?
Passenger aviation can only grow so much and then something has to give. The Guardian website shows the effect of aviation growth on the planet and warns of the consequences if unbridled growth is allowed to continue.
The Guardian points out that aviation growth may be thwarted by its own limitations. Many localities are resistant to airport expansions. And with over 1500 barrels of oil needed to fuel a 747 traveling from London to Singapore, our energy sources may be depleted before the CO2 emissions choke the planet.
The Future of Flight
Perhaps Planet Earth isn’t our final destination. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is now taking orders for flights into outer space. For a mere $250,000 you can buy a ticket on a commercial flight from New Mexico in the US to outer space where you can experience weightlessness.
Virgin Galactic completed its third supersonic test flight last month and announced earlier this week that it intends to launch its intergalactic passenger service later this year.
Have you checked out The Guardian’s In Flight website? Were you amazed at all of the flights currently in the air? What do you think the future of aviation is? Have you purchased your ticket on Virgin Galactic yet? Let us know in the Comments section below!
Uber’s Digging You!
If you’re in Philadelphia and sick of snow…wait, that’s redundant. Let me start again:
If you’re in Philadelphia, you’ll be thrilled to learn that Uber, the on-demand car service, wants to dig you out of the snow this morning. A Valentine’s Day gift certain to warm many hearts, UberSHOVEL is a joint project between Uber and TaskRabbit, giving you 15 minutes of shoveling snow for $15 between 7-11am today in Philadelphia.
All proceeds from UberSHOVEL will be donated to the Red Cross to help disaster victims in Philadelphia this winter.
To order shoveling, just open up your Uber app and press the UberSHOVEL button and wait for your new best friend to arrive. Note that supplies are limited so make your request early. In addition to shoveling your snow, Uber will give you special Uber touchscreen gloves and Valentine’s day surprises from ProFlowers.com.
New Uber customers can save $20 by using the coupon code UberSHOVEL.
Find out more details from the Uber website.
Pinterest Valentine’s Day Gift to You
Need a last minute Valentine’s Day card? Pinterest has you covered. Check out Pinterest’s Valentine’s Day card board filled with pins created by designers for you to send to loved ones.
♥ Happy Valentine’s Day! ♥
* Airplane image courtesy of Kuster & Wildhaber Photography
* Virgin Galactic photo courtesy of Virgin Galactic