Aaron Koblin, an artist specializing in data and digital technologies and currently leader of the Data Arts team in Google’s Creative Lab, collaborated with Wired Magazine and FlightView Software to create beautiful graphics and illustrations of flights based upon tracking data by the FAA.
The following YouTube video is a time-lapse movie of flights over the US during a 24 hour period in 2008. One can clearly see the airspace come alive on the East Coast in the early morning hours and then calm down over night.
It is amazing how much data is aggregated into such a visualization – covering over 200.000 flights! Aaron’s website has a section about the flight patterns project which is well worth exploring. There are other graphs where you can set filters for aircraft type, manufacturer, altitude etc. Some of these graphics have been sold as wallpaper or prints and graced various art exhibitions. There is beauty in properly visualized data.