Have you ever spent an entire plane flight staring at the earth below, wondering what you’re passing? Shane Loeffler, a graduate student in the University of Minnesota’s Earth Sciences program, always did – so he created an app to help travelers learn about the landscape around them.

A screenshot of Flyover Country in action. (Photo Courtesy of Shane Loeffler)

Flyover Country is an interactive mobile application that uses GPS tracking, offline geographic maps and geo-referenced Wikipedia articles to inform users about points of interest, such as fossil findings, as they travel.

The most recent version of the app was released in late October 2017. Loeffler told Minne Inno that he had the idea in 2014 and launched the free app in December of 2015. It’s available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Flyover Country is currently funded by grants from the University of Minnesota and by the National Science Foundation, Loeffler said. Amy Myrbo, research associate in the Earth Sciences department at the U of M, is the principal investigator on the project. Reed McEwan, Sijia Ai and Alex Stone work as developers for Flyover Country.

The plan is to spinoff a startup company called Flyover Country Inc. With the launch of this entity, Flyover Country hopes to bring the capabilities of their app to airlines, which could be viewed on seat-back screens.

“Our goal is to bring content that we’ve been curating and storing up into the airplane map system,” said Loeffler. Currently working out the details, Loeffler and his team have been talking to multiple in-flight entertainment companies to make this collaboration happen.

Flyover Country hopes to launch their company and announce partnership with major airlines by the end of this year, Loeffler said.