Lubyloo asked in TravelAir Travel · 1 decade ago

When you fly, can you tell which city is which from the air?

I always wonder which cities I'm flying over and never can seem to figure it out.

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Sure you can. It's the first way that pilots made their way around the country, and is still a primary method for private pilots. Flying by reference to the land is called pilotage.

    There are some things you have to do to make it easier, though. The biggest is to be able to recognize primary landmarks. For your hometown and places nearby, you may not need much preparation to do that. Contrary to what you might think, the easiest things to identify aren't familiar buildings -- they look too different from the air. Instead, it tends to be highways (especially interchanges) and parks. Huge structures, like malls, are easier to see, although they're also easy to confuse with warehouses and other large buildings. Also look for familiar rivers and hills or mountains.

    When it comes to locations you're not so familiar with, it becomes a lot harder. You can take a look at the satellite view from Google Maps to give you an idea. Another good place to check is It hosts maps that pilots use to plan flights. Type in the name of a local airport (you can find the codes on Wikipedia; for example, LAX for Los Angeles) and look at where it is in a city. Notice how there's a yellow block representing those? That's generally what they'll look like form the air, and at night, what the lights will look like.

    It takes some practice, but the more to do it, the better you'll get. Try it out.

    Source(s): Pilot experience
  • AJ
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Once you get so high, its difficult to see the ground since your above the clouds. But if you know approximately the route the plane will fly, you can at least guess if you fly over a very large city which one it is.

  • Neil
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Yes, I usually can if I can get a good view and it's a major city I'm familiar with. Chicago and St. Louis, for example are easy but don't ask me to point out Carbondale or Kirksville!

  • 1 decade ago

    Not just by looking as generally you can't recognise landmarks from above cos you're used to seeing them side on. But if you follow the plane's flight path camera (if they have one) you'll know when you're above a certain city. For example, Singapore Airlines has a flight oath camera and China Air does a camera on the nose of the plane.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Its really hard to do so because you will be so high up in the air (like 30,000 ft or something) and the plane usually flies above all the clouds.

  • 1 decade ago

    no, but it's usually easy to tell which areas are rural farm lands and which are bigger cities. lol.

  • 1 decade ago


    Source(s): My Logic <_ >
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