Posts Tagged ‘Google Earth’

Google Earth – Complete US Air Routes

February 6th, 2008 9 comments

USA Flight Map: All Routes, All Airlines - Google EarthA couple of weeks ago I put together a small collection of Google Earth airline route maps for various countries. These work interactively, using mouse hovers over airport Icons to activate and reveal destinations.

The previous files each had fewer than a thousand routes, and were fairly limited in scope. So, I was wondering, how effectively do these scale up ? As it turns out, surprisingly well.

The following Google Earth networklink opens a file including 13287 scheduled routes within the USA, between 714 airports.

Flight Maps (USA) (2 MB)

Data is from the US Bureau of Transportation’s most recent monthly flight stats: October 2007. Strictly speaking it’s not really a route map in the same way as my other files – rather, it’s a map showing where scheduled airlines flew that particular month.

Viewing Suggestions:

  • Because of the high number of placemarks and long distances involved, this all looks much better full screen [F11].
  • To permanently lock on a set of lines:
    1. Right click on the entire file, a folder or airport,
    2. Go to Properties,
    3. Select the Style, Color tab,
    4. Then increase the line opacity.
    5. Hit OK.
    6. The only way to fully reverse this, and get the mouse over effect back,  is to re-download or re-open the file.  To do this within GE: right-click on the root folder: US Flight Maps, and select refresh.
  • Don’t forget you can hold down the middle mouse button and swing the view around while keeping the flightpaths displayed.

ZIPScribble Animated

January 20th, 2008 5 comments

Animated ZIP (code) Scribble Map in Google EarthThis is a Google Earth, time animated version of the U.S .ZIP map in my post from a couple of days ago. Based on Robert Kosara’s ZipScribble maps. 

The KML file contains 43,000 lines connecting every ZIP code in the country, TimeStamped in ascending numerical order.  

Just a slight warning: This is a very large and detailed time animation. It runs smoothly on my 3-year old PC (the little GIF above is from a real time capture), but may not work on some computers.

ZIP Scribble Map (USA) (650kB)

Viewing the File

  • Hit the play button in the Time Control, top right of the screen, or just drag the slider left or right. 
  • time_delta_google_earth.JPGExpand the time span to increase the number of ZIP Codes displayed at any time.
  • Deselect folders in the left sidepanel to alter the scope of the animation.
  • Change the visualization to a cumulative animation by selecting clamp beginning of time window in the time option dialog  – accessed through the white clock icon to the left of the time slider.


  • The numbers shown under the Time Control are 5-digit ZIP codes without the leading zeros.
  • States are different Colours. No significance in the choice of colour – it’s just for contrast with one another and the terrain.
  • White lines indicate the sequence jumping a State boundary.

P.S.  for a different take on visualizing ZIPs,  check out Ben Fry’s  Java, zipdecode.

KML ZIP Scribble Map

January 18th, 2008 2 comments

US ZIP code Locations, in Google Earth

About a year ago, Robert Kosara at published a fascinating set of visualizations demonstrating the overall structure of ZIP (and post) codes in various countries, for obvious reasons he called them ZipScribble maps. Robert compiled  PDF maps of the USA,  and a dozen more countries

The concept he uses is remarkably straightforward:

 1) Plot the centroid of every ZIP code area onto a map.
 2) Join these with lines, dot-to-dot, in ascending numerical (or alphabetical) order.

I know several people did similar things for various parts of the world, but I don’t think anyone ever published one of these in KML (?)

Anyway, as you can see from the picture at the top of the post, inspired by Robert’s maps I’ve compiled a visualization for Google Earth, showing a complete set of 43,000 U.S. ZIP codes.  Bordering States are shown in different colours.  White lines indicate where the sequence jumps across a State boundary.

It’s interesting to combine the file with Google Earth’s default Borders and Labels layer to see how the organization of the codes relates to the underlying geography.

Download the file here:

ZIP Scribble Map (USA) (320kB)

There’s a chance this one might cause problems on some computers – 40,000 data points is a lot of information for GE to handle 🙂 .   Before switching on all the States (only a quarter are on by default) it’s probably wise to close any other KML files, or complex layers like Weather and 3D buildings.

Data Source:

1999 U.S. Postal Service ZIP Codes (U.S . Census website)

2200 Biggest Airports in the USA

January 13th, 2008 3 comments

Every Airport in the USA, Google EarthWhere are the busiest commercial passenger airports in the USA, and how are they distributed across the country ?

This Google Earth KML file mashes up a geographic database of FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) airport codes,  with passenger boarding totals (enplanements) for the year 2006.

Download the file here:

2200 Airports (USA) (150kB)

Airport Passenger Information in Google EarthIcon dots are scaled in size according to number of passengers, Atlanta-Hartsfield being the biggest. Similarly, the colours run through dark blue to red – Atlanta the reddest.

  • Hover the mouse over each dot to see the passenger totals and airport name. 
  • Double click an Icon for information on where it ranks amongst the list of the busiest, and how the stats break down into scheduled and unscheduled boardings. 
  • Navigate up and down the league table using the arrows either side of the ranking position.
  • Airport Map Folder ViewRestrict the range of airports shown by turning off folders in the left sidepanel.

Note:  There’s a chance GE might slow down some older machines with this file open – I think it’s worthwhile seeing all the information on screen at once with this one,  no attempt to dynamically limited which parts of the KML are shown at any one time (Regions)


Flight Route Maps for Australia and New Zealand

January 9th, 2008 3 comments

Flight Route Map for Every Airport and Airline in Australia, Google EarthFlight Routes in New Zealand, Google Earth

Here’s a couple more of these Google Earth, Interactive Flight Route Maps.  Australia, including 171 airports,  and 875 scheduled domestic routes.  And one for New Zealand with 36 airports and 193 flight paths.

New Zealand Flight Map (50kB)

Australia Flight Map (300kB)

These operate on exactly the same principle as the flight map for the UK and Ireland.    Simply open the file with Google Earth, and roll the mouse over an airport to see all the routes from it appear on the map.   Click on an airport icon for more details.  

All the airport destination data for this is sourced from Wikipedia,  so don’t rely on it being 100% accurate.

I made a handful of modfications to these compared with the previous visualization:

  • Flight profiles differ in heights according to their length.  The longer the route the higher it is. 
  • There’s extra information in the pop-up balloons: Airport names,  ICAO codes,  IATA codes, and links to the source Wikipedia articles.   
  • Yellow Icons indicate airports for which Wikipedia doesn’t yet have a flight destination list.  My script fills in the missing information for these by scanning through all the outbound destinations from other airports and assuming the same airline flies back to where it came from. In some cases, e.g. circuit routes, this will throw up false information.