For the app’s creator, flying provides the opportunity to see “planetary scale processes and the ways humans live around them.”
To locate areas of interest, the app cross-references the user’s location with stored geologic maps from Macrostrat.org; fossil locations from Neotomadb.org and Paleobiodb.org as well as geo-referenced Wikipedia articles.
Naturally, not all this information cannot all be stored at one time, so Flyover Country analyzes flight paths keyed into it. This allows it to cache (temporarily store) any relevant data that will be required, pointing out any significant locations based on where you are. Frequent journeys can be saved if necessary, for if you fall asleep on that outbound flight.
Additionally, when not offline, the app factors in speed, location and direction of travel to predict what is coming up on your journey and notify you accordingly. Called “Navigation mode,” this feature locks the screen to your position and orients the map using your phone’s inbuilt accelerometer and compass.
On iTunes, the description also notes how “‘car/foot'” mode “provides a narrower but more detailed geologic map with detailed unit descriptions and metadata” compared to the wider strip of data found on plane mode.
Now his app has found success, Loeffler says he wants to include an augmented reality aspect into the design. This would work in the same way night sky sky apps do (Google’s Sky Map is a good example) just inverted, looking at the ground instead.
One tip when using the app: make sure your phone has access to a power source when in use. The app is not a major battery drainer, but, for airplane mode, battery consumption is increased due to the use of GPS.
So now, if you’re dying to strike up conversation with the poor person sitting next to you, you can at least make a quip about how the desert you’re flying over was once tainted with blood in the Crimean War or how that this forest was once home to Pterodactyl’s .