Photo: 13/Atomic Imagery/Ocean/Corbis
These days we all have a little bit of aviation geek in us. Even though flying has become such a part of our lives it still feels like something a little bit special, a little bit magical.
The Internet allows us to know just about everything we would ever want to know about commercial aviation, from the exact routes we will be flying to the exact routes others will be flying, to insider airline gossip and chatter.
These are the best websites for everything you ever wanted to know about flying the friendly skies.
To Map Out a Flight Path - Great Circle Mapper
Photo: Great Circle Mapper
Want to see the flight route between any two cities? Curious about what landmarks you’ll be flying above? Looking to calculate path distance or find out information on airport codes. Look no further than the Great Circle Mapper.
Being able to calculate the distance of your flight is extremely useful when checking in on your frequent flier miles. It’s also a lovely way to know when during a flight you should be looking out the window.
If you really want to geek out, the site allows you to easily plot out around the world flight paths for that fantasy Cessna you will inevitably buy one day.
To Track Flights - Flight Aware
Want to determine where in the air anyone is at any given time? Or want to check in to see where exactly you are when you are in flight? You need Flight Aware.
I use this site on a regular basis when I am picking someone up from the airport. Not only does it let me know when to head to the airport (and which terminal to head to), but it also creeps people out a little bit when you send them a text right when they land.
The Passenger Advocate - Runway Girl
Photo: Runway Girl Network
EGN represent a collective of hugely talented aviation journos and provides insider knowledge of the passenger experience down to the tiniest minutiae. It also serves to highlight the achievements of women in aviation and promote equality across the industry, something few sites are doing these days.
This is the place to go to find out how and why airlines are gauging you. They’ll tell you which planes have the best seats and what the airplane seats of the future will look like.
Industry News - The Cranky Flier
Photo: The Cranky Flier
Brett Snyder has had the airline bug since he was a little boy. His grandmother actually took him to an airport hotel for his birthday one year so he could watch the planes land. A long time industry insider, Snyder now brings together an exhaustive aggregation of what is happening in the airline industry.
To Hear Industry Chatter - Airliners.net
Industry employees including pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers often participate in the discussion boards on this site. It’s the best place to discuss airlines, airports and commercial aviation.
For Emergency Landings - Airplane Geeks
Photo: Airplane Geeks
Airplane Geeks provide a lot more information than just talk of emergencies, but they are some of the quickest cats out there when it comes to chronicling unscheduled landings. You’ll want to tune into their regular podcast too.
If You Have a Serious Aviation Fetish - Just Planes
It may be enormously cheesy, but if you loves planes, you will be captivated by “Just Planes.” The site is an entire business based on the selling of DVDs of flights as they happen. Yes, these are videos of the pilots just sitting in the cockpit doing stuff. Watching the trailers alone (particularly the ones involving turbulence) can provide hours of AV-geek entertainment.
Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad.