Over the years, ‘SpiderX22’ on Google Earth Hacks has submitted a ton of great files to the site. As of right now, he has over 1200 submissions and they’ve been viewed more than two million times.
His latest file, “Streetview in Flight“, is quite amazing. It is a collection of over 800 aircraft (helicopters, airplanes and aerostats) that are visible in Google Street View, all plotted and loaded in Google Earth.
Each item can be viewed directly within Google Earth (version 6+) or viewed in Google Maps with a direct link from within the placemark. If you’re not familiar with how to use Street View from within Google Earth, here are some tips to get you started.
Aircraft in flight have always been a fun item to spot in Google Earth, but they’re usually seen from space looking down; with this file, you’re back on the ground looking up at them, which is a fun change of pace.
Great work, SpiderX22!
With the the release of Google Earth 4.2 back in 2007, Google added a much-requested feature to the product; a flight simulator. To try it out for yourself, simply go to [Tools] –> [Enter Flight Simulator] and dive in!
Not long after it came out, Frank posted a list of tips and tricks for using the simulator, as it can be a bit tricky to get started.
Start up the flight simulator as described above. I recommend you choose the SR-22 plane to start (it is a much slower plane than the F-16, and will help you learn the controls). Choose any airport, or just the default “Katmandu”. If you don’t have a joystick, you can’t select one. Next hit Start flight.
To get started, hold down the Page Up key briefly (this will add power to your plane). The throttle indicator is on the lower left (triangle should be at the top for full throttle).
To control your direction on the ground, use the comma and period keys on your keyboard to apply left and right brakes. Just touch them briefly to change direction left and right.
Important tip – mouse control – it’s best to use the mouse to control the plane (unless you have a joy stick). I wouldn’t bother with trying to fly with the keyboard. Simply click the mouse once in the center of the view and you should see your cursor change to a “+” sign. Don’t move your cursor outside the window or you will lose control! The mouse will only control your plane in the air, and if the cursor is inside the Google Earth window.
Taking off – Once your plane is going faster down the runway, try moving the mouse back slightly from center. If you’re going fast enough you should take off. Remember: just make small motions with the mouse close to the center of the screen. Once you have the wings level, put the mouse in the center. A lot of first time fliers have a tendency to over correct.
To make a turn – move the mouse slightly to the right or left and when your plane is tilted, pull back slightly. When you’ve made the turn you want, push the mouse back to the center then the other direction to tilt the plane back to level.
Pausing – If you want to stop for a moment, simply hit the space key on the keyboard and it will pause the simulator. Hit space again to resume.
Start higher – Position your view in Google Earth in the normal mode so you are at least 30,000 feet above ground. Tilt your view so you are looking at the horizon. Then restart the flight simulator mode (use Tools->Enter Flight Simulator…, or the keyboard shortcut CTRL-ALT-A) so you can choose what plane to use, and other options. Choose Select your start position->Current view in the window, and then choose Start flight. You should add power by hitting the Page Up key after starting it up. Now you can practice flying a while before you hit the ground!
Landing – it is possible to land the plane. But, I’ll leave that for advanced tutorials.
Your other great option for flight in Google Earth is Xavier Tassin’s amazing GE Flight Simulator site, powered by the Google Earth Plugin. It’s quite an amazing site with dozens of aircraft to choose from (including paragliders and hot air balloons), real-time weather, and live multi-player (see other users flying around near you).
It also has a creative multimonitor mode, for those of you with more than one screen that are looking for a more immersive experience. You can try it yourself right now at gefs-online.com.
Over the years, we’ve shown you a variety of great ways to use Google Earth to track hurricanes. While much of that data comes from weather satellites, some of it comes from “hurricane hunters” that fly into the storms to pick up detailed conditions that can be used to help predict the path of the storm.
Morgan Palmer has written an excellent blog post to show you how to track the planes that are collecting data from these storms. Tropical Storm Debby is currently drenching the gulf coast of the US and the planes have already made a number of trips into the storm.
To get started quickly, simply visit the Live Recon page on TropicalAtlantic.com and click the “Live Recon Data in Google Earth” link. That will load a KMZ file onto your computer, from which you can view the current and recent data. To make the experience even better, enable parts of the [Weather] layer (particularly the clouds) so you can get a more detailed look at what they’re flying into.
For details on how to use the file, be sure to check out the full post on Morgan’s site.
In the discussions of “GEFS Online” flight simulator, Jorg Buchholz mentioned that he had built a jetpack simulator in Google Earth. While the product isn’t as polished as GEFS, it’s still quite a lot of fun to play with!
By default you start in Christchurch, New Zealand, though you can quickly jump to any location in the world. Your jetpack hovers in the air, and you can control it using your mouse, keyboard or joystick. The controls and physics seem quite solid, though I don’t have any first-hand jetpack experience. 🙂
If you use the keyboard, or likely with a joystick as well, the simulator supports simultaneous commands. For example, you can hold “8” and “1” to fly forward and up at the same time. It’s a little thing, but adds quite a bit to the realism. This is a big reason why I enjoy using the SpaceNavigator with Google Earth — you can be moving in a few different directions at the same time.
This is a fun little simulator and it’s a neat way to explore your favorite cities. You can try it for yourself at jetpacksimulator.tk. Nice work, Jorg!