Thanks to a posting by Paul Tomblin, I just discovered a new aviation Google-maps mashup. Normally, Google maps lets you switch among a map view, a satellite photo, and a satellite photo with map info superimposed (called a hybrid view). In this mashup, Runway Finder, an anonymous developer (“dave”) has added a view based on tiled and geo-referenced US sectional charts. So now you can go anywhere covered by US sectionals — including many Canadian cities — and zoom in or out, and switch among sectional, road map, and satellite views. Very nice. Unlike other free online sectional viewers, this one gives you a decent size viewing window, on top of all the Google Maps bells and whistles.
The site also shows airports near your current location, with colour coding for weather conditions reported in METARs, as well as TFR outlines. Unfortunately, all of this is available only for the U.S. right now (hint to dave: Paul Tomblin maintains a free database with worldwide airport, navaid, and intersection data). Looking at the sectionals makes me even sadder that the U.S. is the only country with the decency to make geodata and charts available free to the public — it would be nice if VNCs were available for full Canadian chart coverage.
One current shortcoming is that it’s not possible to bookmark a view and come back to it, but I’m sure that will be fixed soon.