View Near Real-time Flights over the U.S. in Google Earth

Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 4:10 PM


Thanks to our friends at Flightwise.com, we’ve published a new, dynamically updating KML file of commercial flights over the U.S. Turn on the layer to see the current location and altitude of thousands of flights, in near real-time. The KML file is created from data available on the Flightwise website, which they collect from the FAA every few minutes.


Hover over an airplane icon to see the airline, flight number, and up-to-date path.


Clicking an icon yields an information-rich bubble showing more detailed flight information, including estimating arrival time.


And finally, clicking on the “Download flight path” link in the balloon downloads a full KML tour of the flight so you can play back and rewind the flight up to its current position and see where it was at any point in time.

Note that due to FAA restrictions and timing of data pushes, the time of the data displayed will lag by an average of 15 or 20 minutes behind the current time. Nevertheless, we find this layer to be a compelling and fun way to get a snapshot of all the airplanes in the air at any given time over the U.S., all placed at the appropriate coordinates and altitude. Save the layer to your “My Places” panel, keep it checked on, and it will auto-refresh every few minutes. Surely this is the best way to keep up to date on what’s going on in the skies in Google Earth. And don’t call me Shirley. *

* An homage to a classic film.

Posted by Cris Castello, GIS Data Engineer