Yesterday I decided to check the Google Earth Community to see what kind of maps had been created for the location of the crash site of Air France Flight 447. There’s an active thread on the crash in the Current Events forum. There are several useful maps like this one by ‘rafaelds‘ which shows the approximate flight, when radar contact was lost, and the position when the last signal was received.
The map I found most useful to explaining what probably happened to Air France 447 is this image overlay of a weather map at the time of the crash (post by ‘smokeonit’ who is a GEB regular).
Download the maps and zoom in a bit to see the weather conditions the plane decided to go through. Dark on a radar map like this is very bad weather. The pilot of Flight 447 took the plane through the absolute worst part of a very big storm. He had radar and could have diverted. The question is, why didn’t he divert around it? My condolences to the families of those lost in Flight 447. [UPDATE: GEB reader 'Alex' left a comment about some analysis of the weather system. It appears some reports did not show the bad weather, and analysis shows it developed suddenly. Further, the area the pilot flew through may have been a collapsing megacell which appeared safe up until the moment they went through. It can be hard to predict mother nature!]