The maps in this atlas are animations depicting flight traffic over North America.  All animations were collected on weekdays, unless otherwise indicated, during the period of March to September of 2003 using a program called FlyteTrax 2002 from FlyteComm, Inc.  The program displays the locations of all flights on a map, distinguishing between general aviation and commercial aircraft.  It also allows the "filtering" of flights based on the aircraft, elevation, airline, and the departure or arrival airport.  

The atlas consists of 100 individual animations, each presented at three different speeds.  At 1440 frames each, the over 143, 000 individual frames were used to create the animations.  Each animation averages about 12 MB for a total of about 3.6 GB.  Distribution of this atlas would not be possible without the use of the DVD format.  The fast communication speeds associated with the DVD format also allows these animations to be viewed directly from the DVD, although faster display can be achieved by copying the files to a hard-drive.

The animations are saved as ".avi" files and encoded with the Divx codec.  They play best in Windows Media Player and will open automatically in this application, depending upon how your computer is set to deal with these files.  Stopping and starting Windows Media Player may eliminate any artifacts, especially a double-line that may appear on the bottom.  Windows Media Player is a free application and can be downloaded from

A single frame of the animation for Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) is shown below.  One of the airplane symbols over Canada is hollow indicating that a radar position report for this airplane has not been received for at least seven minutes.  The graphical user interface for FlyteTrax is shown in the upper-left.  Airplane symbols are assigned a random color to indicate the different airline.  The Minneapolis/St. Paul airport is a hub for Northwest Airlines and one can see that is airline has been assigned a greyish-green color.  The current number of departures and arrivals is shown in the lower-right, along with the current time.  The time is always provided for the Central Time Zone.



In addition to FlyteTrax, a second program called Capture Eze Pro, was used to capture the FlyteTrax window at a specific interval.  A one minute interval was chosen to correspond with how often FlyteTrax updates the position of aircraft.  A 24-hour animation consists of 1440 frames (60 minutes X 24 hours). 

Finally, the individual frames were brought into Adobe Premiere to create the animation.  Each animation was output at three different speeds.  One animation, designated as "SLOW," shows the 24-hour day in 1 minute and 40 seconds, corresponding with an effective time-lapse ratio of 1 : 867.5 (867.5 seconds are shown in 1 second).  The "NORMAL" animation depicts the 24 hour period in 1 minute and 12 seconds for a ratio of 1 : 1,200.  A third "FAST" animation shows the 24 hour day in 30 seconds for a time lapse ratio of 1 : 2,880. 


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