Getty Images (left); Flyover Country (Right)

This app promises to make the view infinitely more interesting—or at least educational.

April 04, 2016

Now, when you Instagram the view from your airplane window, you can honestly tell your followers what the heck you’re actually looking at.

On a clear day, the view from your airplane window can be a fascinating one: you can see mountain ranges piercing the clouds, and watch rivers rush along beneath you. Sometimes, you won’t see anything at all—but entire cities and landscapes are coming and going on your path.

Thanks to Shane Loeffler, who wanted to know what sites and features he was passing on a flight home to Minnesota one day, there’s now an app to tell you exactly what you’re seeing out that little oval cutout.

According to Smithsonian.com’s Emily Matchar, Loeffler—at the time of his good idea, a geology student at the University of Minnesota at Duluth—got a grant to transform the concept into an app named Flyover Country (now available to download from Google Play and the App Store).

Fliers simply use the tool to plot their course (like Loeffler flying from the UK to Minnesota, for example) and your phone’s GPS provides your current location and altitude, helping the app to pinpoint exactly where in the world you are: and what features you're seeing from 35,000-feet.

Best of all? The app uses cached articles, maps, and data to pinpoint details about your unique route. In other words, you don’t need to purchase expensive in-flight wifi to use Flyover Country. Travelers can also use the app on road trips, hikes, or epic polar expeditions.

One of Loeffler’s co-developers, Amy Myrbo, hopes to add meteorological and astronomy facts to make evening flights and cloudy days even more insightful.

Truthfully, the app in its current state isn’t the most intuitive or attractive program. But with a few tweaks, it could be a useful, entertaining, and (most of all) educational way to spend your time up in the air. 

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.

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