Why A Geologist’s App Makes The Window Seat Even More Covetable

Why A Geologist’s App Makes The Window Seat Even More Covetable

Help make a flight more interesting with detailed information about the land passing below

Marielle Castillo
  • 7 april 2016

Not everyone’s interested in looking away from their inflight entertainment or forgoing a nap, but for those lucky enough to snag that precious window seat, there’s now an app that makes the view a lot more interesting. Flyover Country is an offline mobile app funded by the National Science Foundation that can pinpoint where in the world we are and what we see, using the phone’s current GPS location, altitude and speed. Working with cached maps offline, it analyzes a given flight path and shows relevant map data and points of interest, and displays this data without the need of inflight Wi-Fi.

It also exposes interactive geologic maps and fossil localities.

For the app’s creator, Shane Loeffler, a geology student at the University of Minnesota, the inspiration came in a flight from the U.K. back to his hometown as he was wondering about the landscape beneath him. “The way Shane put it, the airplane seat is sort of a planetarium for the Earth,” Amy Myrbo, a geologist at the University of Minnesota and one of Loeffler’s co-developers, told Smithsonian Magazine. “It’s a great way to inspire people to learn about the sciences.”

Myrbo hopes to add meteorological and astronomy facts in the future.


Even though it’s still being developed, the app is already available for iOS and Android. A fascinating educational tool, both for scientists and the general public, the app gives great insight into how humans affect the landscape in an easy and exciting way. While it was designed to be used on airplanes, it is also useful on earthbound activities likes hikes and road trips, as well as train journeys.

Flyover Country

+educational tool
+Flyover Country
+interactive geologic maps
+National Science Foundation
+offline mobile app

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