London, UK: The Royal Geographical Society in association with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) mooted the Hidden Journeys Project, an online initiative. It aims to turn the international flying experience into an exploration of what goes on down below.
Using photographs, paintings and descriptions of what one can recognise from the air, the Hidden Journeys website allows visitors to explore various flight paths around the world at three different altitudes: flying at 13,000m, 1,000m and ground level. At each level, visitors are given a different collection of images from that particular flight path, as well as descriptive information, such as the location’s geographical features, wildlife, cultural practices and major historical developments.
The project’s coordinator, Benjamin Jarman, observed that Hidden Journeys fits into RGS-IBG’s public engagement activity of promoting the importance of geography and why it is essential in understanding our world.
“We realised that underneath any given flight path there is a fascinating journey across many different landscapes, but that the passenger has very little awareness or information about where or what they are flying over. This leaves some passengers frustrated and alienated from parts of the world they can see from their plane window, and it’s a lost opportunity for others to learn more about the world,” Jarman explained.
Hidden Journeys offers 18 different flight paths that span every corner of the globe, including Cairo to Lagos, Vancouver to Los Angeles, Miami to Buenos Aires, and London to Delhi. Each journey is created by RGS-IBG by picking a flight path and dividing it up into points of interest visible from the air.
Each waypoint is illustrated with images and maps from the society’s archives, which (unsurprisingly, as the society was founded in 1830) contain one of the largest private map collections in the world, as well as over 500,000 historic and contemporary images.
Researchers also interviewed geographers, scientists and travellers affiliated with RGS-IBG for expert insights, and complemented these with images and information from online sources.
The RGS-IBG hopes to continue expanding Hidden Journeys by developing new flight paths and increasing video content. The society is also looking to develop technology to allow the guides to be easily accessed by passengers while actually onboard an aircraft.