General Question

Aethelwine's avatar

Where online can I find a map of a specific flight path?

Asked by Aethelwine (42465points) June 5th, 2010

I’ve searched but all I end up with are airline quotes, arrival and departure times and World of Warcraft maps. :/

I’m looking for a map with the flight path from Chicago to Madrid. Does anyone know where I can find such a map online?

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16 Answers

missingbite's avatar

Please be a little more specific. If you mean the actual flight path that an airliner takes, there could be several different ones. It will depend on winds, time of day, departure airports, arrival airports… All of these will get you a slightly different route.

Aethelwine's avatar

@MissAnthrope Thank you so much! The sleep deprivation must be getting to me.

bob_'s avatar

@MissAnthrope & @jonsblond Actually, what that shows is the great circle path between locations, which is not the same as the flight path.

@missingbite is right, there are several possible paths. Those are not known until the day the flight is to take place (because of the changing nature of the factors taken into account).

Then again, the great circle path gives you a pretty decent approximation XD

missingbite's avatar

@bob_ is exactly right about the great circle path. The line you see is actually a straight line that looks curved due to the rotation of the earth. Airlines typically don’t fly straight lines.

Aethelwine's avatar

@missingbite & @bob_ Thank you. @MissAnthrope‘s answer did give me a general idea of what I was looking for. My son is flying this afternoon from Chicago to Frankfurt with a connection in Madrid. I was just curious about the route he would be taking. :)

missingbite's avatar

@jonsblond Great! The great circle route that you saw is a very good idea on a macro scale. I was thinking you wanted more of a micro scale idea of the route. I hope your son has a great trip!

kfingerman's avatar

@missingbite…that’s not my understanding. I don’t think the earth’s rotation has anything to do with it (esp since chi and madrid are on similar latitudes). It’s also not a straight line. A truly straight line would run straight through a section of the earth. A straight line on a map would be a curve on the globe, and would actually have to go a great distance because of the earth’s curvature. The line shown is the actual shortest distance between two points on a sphere – which is always a curve both in space and on a flat map. If that’s not intuitive to you, grab a basketball and a piece of string and test it out. The airline will take something close to this route to minimize distance and time…then they’ll change the specifics due to weather, etc.

missingbite's avatar

@kfingerman If you were to draw a straight line on a map and fly the heading is suggested you would not end up where you thought. Some of the reason would be because of winds but the earths rotation would come into play as well. The lines drawn on Great Circle Maps are a little exaggerated but still show a good generalization.

The GCM do show the shortest distance between two points for aviation and shipping. I guess I am not explaining myself very well.

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whatthefluther's avatar

There are a couple of good services to watch live flight tracking for domestic flights within the United States (flight aware and flightview) but I’m not aware of a similar service for international flights. See ya…..Gary/wtf

Aethelwine's avatar

@whatthefluther I would love to find something like that for his flight. My daughter was very interested in seeing the map that @MissAnthrope provided for me. I was able to show her where her big brother might be.

@casheroo I’m so happy for him. This will be such a good experience. Hold those little ones as long as you can. :)

Aethelwine's avatar

@whatthefluther I found the flight with your second link. You just made my day! My daughter says thank you too. :)

whatthefluther's avatar

@jonsblond…You are very welcome…..always glad to help. See ya…...Gary/wtf

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