A view from the air: A book that tells what you’re seeing while you’re flying

Years ago I flew with a group of high school students from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Los Angeles for a seven hour field trip to Disneyland. None of the students had flown before. Math, geography and reading were tied into the trip’s purpose. For geography we studied maps of the three states we would fly over and I pointed out the landmarks we would see, and how to tell a city’s size by the colored space it takes up on the map. (These were special ed students)

As we flew, the students followed the land’s patterns looking for significant landmarks. On this particular flight, the pilot was chatty, pointing out details along the way so that helped. Flying in and out of Albuquerque, Phoenix and Los Angeles was a way to see in 3-D what the maps showed. As lesson plans went, this one was a winner.

There’s a book, America From the Air: A Guide to the Landscape Along Your Route that would have been a perfect companion for this jaunt. The book, co-authored by Daniel Mathews and James. S. Jackson, takes a close look at 14 flight patterns across the United States. The book is designed so you can follow your travels as you look out the window of an airplane. Landmarks, topography and specific details of the locations that one passes are featured. Plus, there’s a CD-ROM that goes with it.

The book sounds terrific to me, particularly since it also explains the relationship between the land and the people who inhabit it. Why this location? Why these crops here? There is a mixed bag of reviews, however, at Amazon.com. Folks who expected a coffee table book where the photographs carry the ride were somewhat disappointed. People who liked the analysis of the relationship between topography, land, its uses and human culture were impressed. I think what a great idea. [via Columbus Dispatch]