Google Earth placemark files
Tour King Mountain with Google Earth
Google Earth (GE) is an application that should be on all computers. That is, all computers that can properly run it. It is free. It offers you high resolution imagery that covers more & more of the Earth as Google continues to add to it.
If you can run GE on your computer, we recommend you use it as the best way to become familiar with King Mt. and the routes we fly from there.
With GE, you can zoom in on areas you want to view. As you move around in GE, imagery for the area you are viewing is downloaded from the web to your computer. That imagery is accumulated in a cache file on your computer. This cache makes it faster to load the imagery for a place you've already visited. When you are not connected to the web, this cache also makes it possible for you to view places you've previously visited when you were connected.
We are assuming that you will use GE on your home computer to become familiar with King Mt. and the contest routes. But, we also assume that if you have a laptop computer, you will load it on that laptop so that you can have this imagery available while you are at King.
GE can be run on most computers. Basically, if your computer is newer than, say, 5 years old, it should be able to run GE. The main concerns are your graphics card and the speed of your internet connection.
GE is web based. That means that all of the imagery you get from GE resides on network servers. As you move around in GE, new imagery is downloaded to your computer. As you can guess, there is a lot of data downloading that takes place. The speed of your connection to the internet will be a big factor in your ability to use GE well.
It is highly recommended that you have a Broadband internet connection for this application. While it is possible to use a dial-up connection, it'll be a lot slower. If you are using a dial-up, you should give GE a try anyway. You may find that the advantages of using GE outweigh the speed penalty.
Here are some Google Earth links:
- Requirements for running Google Earth.
- Download Google Earth.
- Google Earth home page.
- Google Earth Community. The GE bulletin board, where you can ask questions and search for answers and info.
- Using Google Earth. A blog focusing on learning about GE.
- Ogle Earth. A blog focusing on GE news items.
- Google Earth Blog. Another blog focusing on GE news items.
King Mountain Placemarks
In GE, you can tag a location with a Placemark. Placemarks can be a single point, a line or path, or a colored/shaded area. We have assembled a collection of placemarks that you can bring into GE, then use to tour around the King Mt. area.
The placemarks are used to identify:
- contest routes, both route centerline and route boundaries
- bonus LZs along the routes
- no-fly zones to avoid
- peaks and mountain ranges
- towns, with gas availability
- flight tracklogs, showing how other pilots have flown the routes
- places where you can view a photo to compare with what you're seeing in GE
We want to keep the size of the placemark collection small enough that anyone, broadband or not, can download it.
But, there is a problem - the photos. At each spot where we offer a photo, you can click on the placemark once to bring up a small photo. You can double-click the placemark to travel to that spot and orient yourself in GE so that the GE view matches the photo.
Along with the small photo, you'll have a couple of links (usually) that you can use to download and view (in your web browser) larger versions of the photos, with and without text labels.
Those large photos always reside on this website's server. You don't download a photo to your computer until you ask for it by clicking on the link.
But, the small photos are downloaded to your computer as part of the placemark file. That way you can still see it even if you are not connected to the internet.
Since all these small photos take up room, the size of the placemark collections that include them will be large. For this reason, we are offering the placemark collection in several versions:
- The entire collection in one download file. This is fine if you have broadband.
- The collection in chunks, to help you if you have a slower modem connection:
- All placemarks except for the photos
- Photo placemarks for each route
To download a placemark file, click on its link below. If you already have GE installed on your computer, GE will be started and the placemark file will be imported into GE. You can then move it from the Temporary placemark area to the permanent area of your own placemark list.
- The entire collection (20MB)
- All non-photo placemarks (900KB)
- Photos - Route 1 (5MB)
- Photos - Route 2 (5MB)
- Photos - Route 3 (3MB)
- Photos - Route 4 (5MB)
Placemarks last updated: Apr 6, 2008
Other Google Earth Placemarks
Here are other placemark files that may be helpful: (Click on link to download).
- Screen Crosshair This crosshair helps you as you're zooming in/out.
- 3D Solar's network linked collection Several good overlays, including topographical map overlays, etc. (network link)
- US Sectional Charts, Airport Airspace polygons To get the latest version, click on the link in the folder description balloon (network link).
- US Weather Radar overlays (network link).
- Geographical place names displays place names around current view (network link).
- Idaho Mountain Peaks Displays names of peaks over 11,000ft.
- Lake Idaho obscure ground so only peaks show.
- GE Library lists all the placemarks available from gelib.com (network link).
- World Wide Site Guide, from the Oz Report (network link).
- GE placemarks on the Sonoma Wings site
Notes on using Google Earth
Using a Wheel mouse to navigate
If you use a wheel mouse, you can use it to do almost all of your navigating in Google Earth.
- Zoom in / out: You already know this one. Just roll the wheel. If you want to reverse the action, go to Menu / Tools / Options / Navigation tab. Click the "invert mouse wheel zoom direction" box.
- Tilt Vertical / Horizontal: Click the wheel, and roll mouse forward / backward.
- Rotate Left / Right: Click the wheel, and roll mouse left / right.
Play Tour Mode in Google Earth
- A feature of Google Earth is the "Play Tour" viewing mode. You can fly along a path or a series of placemarks.
- Let's use the Route Photos as an example. Let's fly along Route 1 and view the photos as we go.
- First, we have to set the tour parameters. Go to the menu item "Tools->Options" ("Preferences" on the Mac). Select the "Touring" tab.
- Here you can adjust the Camera Tilt, Range, and Speed . You can also turn on a feature called "Show balloon when tour is paused" which will pop up placemark description bubbles as you view a series of placemarks in a tour. Check "show balloon"for now. You can come back and adjust the other parameters after you've flown the tour. Click OK to use the settings.
- Now, go to the folder for Route 1 photos. Check the box to make them visible. That will also make the folder highlighted (focus is on it). Then start the tour. You can go to the menu: Tools->Play Tour; You can use the keyboard: Ctrl-Alt-P (if you've clicked on the main image window, Alt-P); Or you can click on the VCR buttons at the bottom-right corner of the Places window (Play Tour, Stop Tour).
- You'll find yourself floating along Route 1, going from photo placemark to photo placemark. As the tour pauses at each placemark, its balloon, with its photo, will be displayed. Pretty cool, eh?
- GE placemarks can either live entirely on your computer, or they can live on a website somewhere, downloading their contents as you select them. These web-based placemarks are call Network Links.
- Network Links are commonly used to distribute data to large numbers of users. In this way, if the data needs to be amended, it has to be changed only at the source location, and all users receive the updated data automatically.
- To use a network link, you open the single placemark. It then calls up to the web and downloads the rest of itself, usually giving you a whole branch of placemarks. You then select placemarks as desired. The thing you have to remember about Network Links is that you have to be connected to the internet when you use them; they're not available while off-line.
- The King Mt. placemarks are not a Network Link collection. We want you to be able to use them while off-line, on your laptop while on the road. The only network-based part of the King Mt. placemarks are the large versions of photos in the photo placemarks. Those are retrieved from the web when you ask for them by clicking on the link in the pop-up description balloon.
Refreshing a Network Link image
Some network links will display an overlay image, like a map or satellite photo, over the spot you're looking at in Google Earth. You may want to change the way GE refreshes such images. Let's take the 3D Solar collection's USGS topo maps as an example:
- Position yourself about 10 miles (eye altitude) above the surface of an area you want to view. (actually any height above 1000 ft. should do)
- Load the 3Dsolar collection into GE (link above).
- Check the box so that the network link placemarks will load. The
checkbox should clear and a Plus Sign will appear in front of the checkbox.
Note: if the checkbox doesn't clear on its own, clear it. You don't want all the placemarks to be active.
- Click the Plus Sign to open the branch, showing the placemarks available.
- Check the box for "USGS Topo maps". You'll see a whitish image with a couple of circular arrows appear. That's telling you that an image is being downloaded from the web. In a few seconds, you'll see a topographic map of the area you're viewing.
- Move a bit in some direction, or up/down, then stop and wait. In a few seconds, you'll see that "loading" image again and then a new map will appear, covering the new view.
That's the way the Refresh parameter of the Network link works. It's set to refresh the image "After Camera Stops", with camera meaning your view. This may be just fine for what you want to do, but there are times when you'll want to play with the map overlay once it's been loaded. To do this, you'll have to change that Refresh parameter. Here's how:
- Right-click the "USGS topo maps" placemark in the placemark list, then choose "Properties". This'll let you modify the placemark.
- In the "Google Earth - Edit Network Link" window, click on the "Refresh" tab.
- In the "View-Based Refresh" section, click the down-arrow to the right of "When: After Camera Stops". You'll see other choices for "When:".
- Choose the "On Request" option.
- Click "OK" to finish your editing.
Now, the Network Link will give you a new map overlay only when you tell it to. How do you tell it to? Try this:
- Navigate to a place you want to view, zooming in/out until you're satisfied.
- Right-click the network link and choose "Refresh". You'll see that "loading" image, then you'll get the new map overlay.
Now the overlay will stay in place while you pan, tilt and zoom.
If you'd like to have more than one overlay in play at the same time, here's a trick:
- Save off the single Network Link placemark as a .kml file. We'll call this one "topo.kml"
- Go to where you saved it off and make two copies of that file. We'll call them topo1.kml and topo2.kml.
- Edit the files with Notepad. They're just text. You want each of the placemarks to have a unique name. Find the line that starts with "<name>". Edit it so that it says "<name>topo1</name>" for the topo1.kml file and "<name>topo2</name>" for the topo2.kml file.
- Now, from inside GE, you can open the two new placemark files. GE will load them into the Temporary area. You can then drag them over to a permanent place in your placemark list.
Note: That "topo.kml" file you saved? You can edit it's internal name, as you did with 1 and 2, but if you try to open it from inside GE, GE will ask you if you want to replace the one you already have.
That's because it remembers that you saved "USGS topo maps" as "topo.kml". It'll bring that file in from disk and replace the original in your placemark list (at least that's what I think is happening).
You normally don't want to do this. I know this is a bit confusing, but that's the way it is with computers, eh?
A final note: If you're too close to the ground when you do an image refresh, it may not load. Move up in the air until it does load. There's a minimum resolution that you can't go below.
Drifting over the ground
If you would like to drift over the ground, here's a neat trick that isn't documented:
- First, turn on a Screen Crosshair. There is one in the "Other Google Earth Placemarks" section, above.
- Second, place your cursor at some point from that crosshair.
- distance from crosshair = speed
- direction from crosshair = drift direction
- Third, hold down your left mouse button while you click the right mouse button.
You'll find yourself drifting, drifting along until you press a mouse button or keyboard key.
The other way to drift is to grab the screen with your left button,
then fling it in some direction as you release the button. This isn't
as precise as the two-button approach, but is useful for course corrections
as you drift along.
NOTE: This mouse work assumes that you have your navigation mode set to "Pan and Zoom". To check, go to the menu: Tools / Options / Navigation tab, and check the Navigation Mode.