Since at least the mid 1980s I have wanted write software that lets me fly over landscapes. Sure, I’ve owned flight simulators over the years dating back to subLOGIC’s Flight Simulator for the Apple II+ and Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer for the Mac (see videos below)
But I find a certain pleasure in the art of creation. Also, the more I control of a program, the more I can tailor it to whatever whimsy I have.
During this year’s Christmas break from work I started writing some code for my iPad. The exercise also gave me an opportunity to exercise some Swift programming skills, something I only do once every couple of years (see “SimpleSniffer and Apple’s Easter Egg in the PCAP Data”, 2015) and work on iOS, something I do even less frequently (see “Cube Dreams”, 2014). (Note: Cube Dreams was removed from the App Store when I joined FICO.)
Key to this year’s Christmas (and weekends) project is that I use Digital Elevation Model (DEM) / Digital Terrain Model (DTM) data. This will give me the opportunity to fly over any place in the United States, much of the world, under the oceans, and, more excitingly for me, many places on the Moon and Mars. USGS and NASA both produce DEM/DTM data sets as part of their missions.
I still have a ton of work to do, but yesterday I flew over my first real DEM data from the Earth.
Here is a video I found for the subLOGIC Flight Simulator. I spent a lot of hours with this on my Apple II+.
And here is a video of Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer that I played with on my Mac SE/30.