A new site simply called “Wind Map” has taken the invisible and made it really easy to see. The brainchild of Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg, the wind map isn’t intended for pilots. In fact, they say in a cute disclaimer, “Please do not use the map or its data to fly a plane, sail a boat, or fight wildfires.” The pair describe themselves as technologists who love to take data and find creative ways “for people to think and talk” about it. The Wind Map, which we first spotted on NPR.org, takes the winds using a great number of data points and creates the ultimate “flow” chart, animating the motion of the air in a way that’s fun and surprisingly interesting to watch. It would be a great tool for flight instructors. All of a sudden, student pilots would get the great global motions that make wind come to life.
It’s not for in-flight use, however, largely because, in its present form, it represents surface winds only. But the idea, to put the winds into motion and watch them move, is a great one, and it’s not hard to image a similar representation of the winds with a drop down list to select the desired flight level. To check out a really cool video of the winds in motion on a particularly blustery day, click here.