The map below shows the approximate flight time (in hours) from any location on earth to any other.
The red lines above indicate equal distances of approximately 1660 km, from the starting location. This distance corresponds to (very) roughly two hours of flight time in a commercial airliner. The actual time would depend on the type of plane, wind conditions, trajectory and a host of other factors that are omitted for simplicity.
The flight paths option, when checked, shows the path a flight might take when going to any point on the globe. Notice that no matter which direction it goes in, it will always go over the opposite side of the earth if it flies long enough.
The more observant of the viewers will notice that the distances and paths above are equivalent to rotated latitudes and longitudes where the ‘topmost’ point is not the north pole, but rather the location chosen as the starting point. If there is a proper name for these rotated meridians and parallels please let me know.
Is it further to fly from Madrid to Los Angeles or from Helsinki to Los Angeles? Think about it. If you’re anything like me, you would have guessed Madrid, and you would have been wrong. Madrid is about 9300 km from LA, while Helsinki is 9000 km, as the plane flies.
What gives? Well, essentially the earth is a sphere (mostly), and the map is distorted. A plane flying from Helsinki to LA would actually start off flying north-west rather than south-west (where LA appears to be), because it would be flying along the great circle which contains both LA and Helsinki (or Madrid). Because the flight goes over the ‘top’ of the world, it’s actually slightly shorter than the flight from Madrid, that has to go around nearer to the equator.
Other interesting facts that one can glean from this map:
Thanks to patricksurry’s block for an example of how to implement a rolling pan and zoom with d3.js.
Errata / Disclaimer
Everything is an estimate. Rounding errors abound. Don’t use this for anything but entertainment and curiosity. But you already know that.