As a pilot I have used GPS for navigation in my plane since 1998 (starting with a Garmin GPS195). During the last year, I discovered you can use tools to document your flight by saving your GPS flight log to your computer. One tool I found particularly nice is called GPS Visualizer (at www.gpsvisualizer.com). The picture at the right (click the picture to see larger) is an example of a flight I made shown in GPSVisualizer. The color of the track represents altitude.
I’ve shared GPSVisualizer’s capabilities with other pilots (oh, it’s also good for all kinds of other GPS activities by the way), but after seeing Google Earth I immediately wanted to try my flight tracks in it as well.
Unfortunately, Google Earth does not import altitude information correctly for non-terrestrial GPS tracks. So, your tracks end up on the ground (i.e. you can’t see the altitude when tilting your view in GE). There is a way around this if you want to follow some rather tricky steps (read this thread and this particular post for the best method so far).
Despite the altitude problem, it is still useful to show your flight logs within Google Earth. Here’s the same flight log shown in Google Earth. (NOTE: I simply opened a GPX file of the track into Google Earth to create this track. You don’t need the Plus version of Google Earth, just output your track in GPX. Also, here is the same flight WITH altitudes using the above method. Make sure you zoom and tilt to see the altitudes.)
As a pilot you can use Google Earth to plan your flight, and make sure you fly over, or to, interesting places. You can also check out the airports you are going to, and even bring in weather overlays to do some weather flight planning. Isn’t Google Earth amazing?