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America from the Air: A Guide to the Landscape Along Your Route Paperback – December 14, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Pap/Cdr edition (December 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618706038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618706037
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 9.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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<div>Introduction We’ve written this guide for the many fliers like ourselves who secretly harbor a tingle of excitement as flight time approaches—so long as we fly in daylight, with auspicious weather and a window seat. Well, yes, it’s also for you, you of little faith who gave up on window seats years ago, perhaps because the views had all merged hazily, their rivers unnameable, their mysteries intractable. Here we name places, unearth histories, and unravel landscape puzzles. Welcome aboard. <br><br>Paths Planes Fly Articles in this guide are sorted into 14 corridors—assemblages of more or less overlapping flight paths. These flight paths embrace nearly all the 60 most heavily traveled city pairs in the United States. If your flight is not on one of these corridors, look it up in the Index of Flights, page 343. You will find suggested sequences of articles for many trips that aren’t so cluttered with contrails. But you’ll have to skip around from corridor to corridor (of the guide, not of the plane). Maps on the preceding pages of this guide largely reflect a recent edition of the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Preferred Routes published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Pilots frequently wish to depart from the preferred route to save fuel or to avoid bad weather and file a request to take a different specified path. The FAA grants the majority of these requests. Preferred routes commonly, but not always, lump the airports within a metro area together, as this guide does. Different preferred routes are sometimes given for different regional airports, for different times of day, or for different aircraft. Flights east from Oakland, California, for example, are more likely to take a northerly option, whereas flights from San Francisco and especially San Jose more often take a southerly option. (We give more examples of such correlations in the corridor introductions.) While the plane is near the departure and destination airports, pilots are directed in real time by local air traffic controllers. For many city pairs, the FAA publishes no preferred routes. By tracking flights online, we were able to find customary routes, as well as to select among FAA preferred routes to find the ones most often followed. Our maps present the results of our investigations. Each city pair typically has at least two flight paths—one for each direction—and they’re often pretty far apart. Some city pairs, especially the longest and busiest routes, have four or more preferred or customary paths. New York–Los Angeles is an extreme example, with paths wandering farther apart than the north-to-south extent of Colorado. (The most northerly New York–Los Angeles route that we have tracked repeatedly crosses a big corner of Wyoming; the most southerly one crosses a small corner of Oklahoma.) For that reason, we divide New York–Los Angeles into two corridors. If you take the northerly one, you are likely to fly over or very close to Chicago and Las Vegas, so it makes sense to include New York–Chicago, Chicago–Las Vegas, and other segments in the same corridor. If you take the southerly one, you are likely to fly near Philadelphia and Indianapolis, which join that corridor. <br><br>Why Planes Don’t Fly Straight For many decades, air navigation worked by triangulating between radio beacons (Navigational Aids, or NAVAIDs) set up for this purpose by the FAA and the military. the easiest way to keep planes on precise routes and avoid midair collisions was to have the planes proceed directly from beacon to beacon. the FAA preferred routes are expressed as sequences of NAVAIDs. Today, it is possible for planes to navigate precisely using Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. But to meet safety requirements for planes, GPS instruments must be far more sophisticated and expensive than those offered for cars and therefore won’t become ubiquitous overnight. With the aid of these instruments, as well as the pressure of the increasing price of jet fuel, the FAA has undertaken a program that takes long-haul flights in uncongested parts of the country off NAVAIDs and puts them on more fuel- efficient paths, often straight lines, once the planes are out of their departure patterns. Flights in opposite directions can take almost the same straight line, as 1,000 feet of difference in altitude is accepted as a safety margin. Back in the present, though: While preparing this guide, we tracked hundreds of flights on the Web; the majority flew from NAVAID to NAVAID. Since NAVAIDs are spots a lot of planes fly over, we include a lot of NAVAIDs in the locations we illustrate in this guide: Garden City, Kansas; Linden, California; Zuni and Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; < North Platte, Nebraska; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Jamestown, New York; Carbondale and Williamsport, PPPPennsylvania; and Newport News, Virginnnnnia.. Three otheer reasons to fly ccrooked are to avoid rough weather, to avoid military airspace when the military requires it, and for greater fuel efficiency and speed when near the jet stream. We don’t foresee those diminishing. It can be well worth going hundreds of miles out of the way to catch a ride on the jet stream eastbound or to avoid fighting it when westbound. Transcontinental flights in the northern third of the country are likeliest to make wide detours based on where the jet stream blows on flight day. So, you’re wondering which path your flight is going to take today? Sorry, we can’t predict. A handheld GPS unit can often provide and record precise positions if held very close to the window for several minutes at a time. Some jetliners show you your progress on a digital map on a “personal TV” screen. If you aren’t so lucky, try asking your flight attendant, during boarding, to pass along a request for the captain to announce an outline of the flight path soon after takeoff . If enough of us ask, we may find pilots making a habit of it before long. If you have time, Internet access, and curiosity, you may enjoy tracking your itinerary daily for a few days before departure. The tracking Web sites we used are www., www.fboweb .com, and Other Web sites predict the weather and the position of the jet stream. If you see either severe storms or a contrary jet stream in your path, expect a substantial deviation. Here’s a Severe Weather Avoidance Pattern (SWAP) taken by one Miami-to-Chicago flight in yellow, compared to the typical flight path in green. the blue to red colors show weather intensity. <br><br>Tips on Using This Guide On many heavily traveled itineraries, you could read one of the corridor chapters from beginning to end. (That would be from end to beginning if you are flying south to north or west to east.) Pay attention to the cross-references to other chapters, at the lower right- and left-hand corner; these refer you to a subject that is visible from both your flight corridor and at least one other. Each article appears just once. Most likely, some subjects in your corridor’s chapter are far from your flight path because the common paths between any two cities diverge widely. You will have greater precision in turning to the right articles if you follow your flight on the map and pick your articles in sequence by their numbers on the map. A few articles cover subjects so widespread that you could simply go ahead and browse them at any time, because you’re likely to see these things by the time you’ve viewed any substantial stretch of the nation: Center pivot irrigation (Great Plains to the Pacific), page 36 Forest fires (Rockies to the Pacific, and Southeast), page 288 Forests pests (Rockies and the Southeast), page 162 Interstate highway system (everywhere), page 76 Wind farms (scattered nationwide), page 65 <br><br> On our maps and in our Index of Flights, major terminals are represented with either standard three-letter airport codes or nonstandard two- letter codes. For cities with one major airport, we use the standard three- letter airport codes. For metro areas with multiple major airports, we treat all the airports as one destination or origin, and we give it a two-letter abbreviation so that we won’t leave you scratching your head trying to think what airport those three letters stand for. Here are our two-letter abbreviations: <br><br> CH Chicago (MDW, ORD) DC Washington, D.C., and Baltimore (BWI, DCA, IAD) HO Houston (HOU, IAH) LA Los Angeles (BUR, LAX, LGB, ONT, SNA) MI Miami (FLL, MIA, PBI) NY New York City (EWR, HPN, ISP, LGA, JFK, SWF) SF San Francisco Bay Area (OAK, SFO, SJC) <br><br> Remember that several airport codes are non-intuitive: MCI for Kansas City; MCO Orlando; MSY New Orleans; YUL Montreal; YVR Vancouver; YYC Calgary; YYZ Toronto. We have indexed the 30 busiest airports or metropolitan airport clusters in the United States, and the 3 busiest in Canada. Before taking off , figure out which compass direction your window faces for the main portion of the flight. If you <br><br> fly west, right-side seats look north, left-side seats look south fly southwest, right side looks northwest, left looks southeast fly south, right side looks west, left looks east fly southeast, right side looks southwest, left looks northeast fly east, right side looks south, left looks north fly northeast, right side looks southeast, left looks northwest fly north, right side looks east, left looks west fly northwest, right side looks northeast, left looks southwest <br><br> Then do your best to read the landscape, especially in the first 20 minutes of your flight. Refer to the map in this guide to see whether you are on one of the routes that we show. The landscape in the image may seem upside down or sideways to you. Look in the image for distinctive shapes that would be easy to spot no matter w...

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Customer Reviews

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Unfortunately, this is a great idea that is very poorly executed.
David Jankowski
I love knowing what I am seeing when I look out of airplane windows, and this book is pretty thorough!
It may be an interesting read, but that's not what I purchased it for.
K. Kadzielawski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Heather Fenyk on January 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm so surprised by the poor reviews. First, this book is definitely not meant for the coffee table. It is a travel guide of the very finest sort. It is designed to be used in-the-field (or, rather, above it) to orient air travelers to the views outside their window and it does so with aplomb. But it does so much more than that. The authors skilfully synthesize a history of earth's natural features with human history and demographic data. In addition to locating rivers and valleys and mountains and seas, it points out the contrast in urbanization and crop colors on the US/Mexico border, identifies Fermilab, windfarms, and the Atlantic City boardwalk. It also interprets the impact of forest fires and forest pests, and describes things like center pivot irrigation. It is well researched, well referenced, and well written and does an excellent job illustrating the remarkable relationship between humans and geography. I can't wait for my next flight.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By W. Holmes on December 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
America from the Air: A Guide to the Landscape Along Your Route

This book is an entirely new approach to looking at the US from above. More than just pictures, the book provides a route-by-route description of the sights you'll see along the route, together with annotated photographs to show you where things are and what you're seeing. Detailed texts tell you what to look for as you pass over different parts of your route. The back of the book has indexes that plot out common airline routes and cross-references to points along those routes. Many of the photographs are straight-down shots taken by NASA from space, but many others are plane-level views that depict the scenes the way you are likely to encounter them.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By chelc on February 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Got this for my father-in-law and grandfather for Christmas - both of whom are former pilots. They especially enjoyed reading about things they had flown over but never known about. The entire family enjoyed the great photography, descriptions, and the CD-ROM in the back cover. We are all now taking turns looking at the CD-ROM - it's a great little perk!
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David Jankowski on January 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The idea is excellent - what, exactly, am I flying over right now? Selecting the most traveled air routes in the country is a great way to constrain the scope to a manageable effort. Unfortunately, this is a great idea that is very poorly executed.

For starters, the routes are very confusing to follow as they often have alternate paths. Just show me what LA to New York looks like, don't divert my attention by diverting me to Las Vegas or Phoenix or whatever.

Second, the pictures aren't very good. It is safe to say that very few of the pictures were taken from the window of a commercial jet. As a result, the view is not even close to what you would see from your window seat (unless you regularly fly in a satellite).

Again, a great idea. And kudos for making it a low-cost paperback. But the execution is poor.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 10, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a gift after a review in Wired. It has major routes, and large area pictures of main land features and discussion of the routes. I wish it had more pictures, more analysis, and and more blowups of the land features. Perhaps looking at the images by computer on the CD (which comes with the book, and which is a copy of the book) would allow zooming in on features in more detail (which I haven't tried). I was a little disappointed in the book expecting even more discussion and analysis of 'what one sees from air'. Most of what was pointed out I already knew. However, my spouse has taken the CD on several trips and hasn't complained.

The pictures are still great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Me on September 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm expecting to be a road warrior and I like to look out the window. Being kinda dumb, I was wondering what some of the things are down there. I tried this on a couple of flights (BOS to ORD) on perfectly clear days. The experience was meh. It could be we didn't take the exact path described in the book. OK but not great. I would not buy again.
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By SuziQ2 on December 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was expecting to see pictures from the air of the routes. It was not at all what I expected.
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