Satellite imagery used to be the exclusive domain of governments and spy agencies, but ever since Google Maps and Google Earth we can all get to see weird things! Fancy a look at Area 51? Wondered what it’s like in downtown Moscow? Or maybe you want to check out the Principality of Sealand? These are just ordinary, everyday things that millions of people use Google Maps and Earth to research every day. But what about the things you weren’t supposed to see, the freaks of camera? Here are 17 of the most bizarre sights for you to laugh at, complete with lat/lons and (where possible) KMLs. Enjoy.
Swastika Influenced Design
1. Swastika Influenced Design: How is it that a US Navy building standing since the 1960′s could cause a controversy in 2007? As hilighted in the mass-media earlier in the year, Google Earth users noticed what only a few pilots would ever have seen – that a US Navy barracks on Coronado island, San Diego was built in the design of a swastika. The Navy said they always knew what the layout of the barracks resembled but thought no one would ever notice. As a result of these images becoming available online, they are being forced to spend $600,000 on new structures and extra greenery to camouflage the building. Embarrassing to say the least. Links: Google Maps / Google Earth
Aircraft Traffic Jam
2. Aircraft Traffic Jam: What would you expect from one of the busiest airports in Europe? Looks like a freak of fortune to catch 3 aircraft on takeoff from Frankfurt International Airport, but it’s actually just overlay issues.
Note that there is only a shadow for the middle aircraft. Links: Google Maps / Google Earth
Single-winged Aircraft Landing
3. Single-winged Plane Landing: This single-winged miracle-aircraft is the result of a bizarre mapping error that Google Earth occasionally suffers from. If you are a frequent Google Earth user you’ll probably have noticed incidences where roads and bridges don’t align properly or varying image resolutions cause some strange viewing. This aircraft was snapped on approach to the north western runway of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport but appears to only have one wing! Links: Google Maps
World War 2 Bomber in Flight
4. World War 2 Bomber in Flight: Google Earth has the ability to snap airplanes in midair – apparently some 3,300 planes have been placemarked. This is a World War II bomber flying over the sleepy suburbs of Huntingdon, England. Unfortunately, the bomber is no longer there in the updated image of the area.
Capsised Cruise Liner
5. Capsised Cruise Liner: If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a powerful typhoon slams into a cruise liner, then here’s your answer. This liner-shaped hotel was docked in the South Korean port of Busan when it was hammered by the 135mph winds of Typhoon Maemi in 2003. Links: Google Maps / Google Earth
North Dakota Truck Crash
6. North Dakota Truck Crash: Sometimes Google’s snapshots of our world are lucky enough to catch things as they happen. Here Google Earth captures a truck that crashed and sprawled out over East Burleigh Avenue just outside of Bismarck, North Dakota. Links: Google Maps
7. Ghost Ships: No longer confined to the annals of countless storybooks and Hollywood movies, ghost ships are real and they’re here today thanks to the camera-freakology of Google Earth! Here we can quite clearly see a ghost ship docking in Newark, New Jersey and taking on a load of cargo. Perhaps this is some sort of reincarnated Black Pearl? I dunno …
John Travolta’s Airport / Home
8. John Travolta’s Airport / Home: It’s no secret that John Travolta is an eccentric, but who would have expected him to build an airport and home in one? His home in Ocala, Florida is one of very few non-commercial airports in the world with a runway long enough to handle aircraft the size of his personal Boeing 707. Check out the internal and external shots in this Architectural Digest feature. Completely. Crazy. Links: Google Maps / Google Earth
9. African Wildlife: Imagine all the creatures roaming about African, just getting on with their thing. Now, thanks to the National Geographic African Megaflyover Project, we can enjoy some of the last true wilderness on the planet via super-high-resolution aerial photographs of Africa. Check out this magnificent image of a large group of hippos in the mud, including a poor old hippo which is seen laying on the bank, being eaten by vultures. Links: Google Maps / Google Earth
Gravity Defying Car Parking
10. Gravity Defying Car Parking: Do you think getting somewhere to park your car is tough where you live? In Westenbergstraat, Netherlands, drivers apparently have to park on the sides of walls. Of course, this is just an example of tongue-in-cheek Dutch humour that comes through well from the above view. Links: Google Maps
Giant Indian Head w/ iPod
11. Giant Indian Head w/ iPod Turns out that the original inhabitants of north America were much cooler than previously thought. “Loud White Ears” had set such a trend back in the ancient times that they decided to build a large effigy of him in commemoration. Links: Google Maps
Super Shrunk Aral Sea
12. Super Shrunk Aral Sea: The once thriving Aral Sea used to be the 4th largest inland lake in the world but has shrunk to a mere 15% of its original size over the last 20 years. The water-guzzling cotton industry has mainly been responsible for this super-shrinking. As a knock on result, the once busy local fishermen have had to pack up and leave, abandoning their boats which are now 50km from the receding shoreline. A sad scene to look upon indeed. Links: Google Maps
The Leaning Tower of Seattle
13. The Leaning Tower of Seattle: This building in Seattle, Washington appears to be leaning badly across the building across the street, nearly touching the opposite building. Despite the appearance, it’s not really the case. There are a few quirks with Google Earth and this one is due to two different satellite angles for this area and merging of the two views. Seattle – you’ve missed out on a proper tourist attraction! You’re just going to have to make do with Microsoft and Starbucks. Links: Google Maps / Google Earth
Bursts of Light
14. Bursts of Light: Many optical illusions and anomalies are captured by Google Earth. Most of them are reflections of lights, flashes or some quirky image pixelation. Some
crazy people claim to have discovered angels, aliens and UFO’s in Google Earth. So to continue in the tradition of jumping to conclusions – could this burst of light this be an opening to a parallel universe? Links: Google Maps – Google Earth
15. Crop Circles: What self-respecting post about bizarre sights on Google Earth would be complete without some
manmade alien-user-generated crop circles? Just to be clear: I wasn’t aware that ET used Firefox.
16. Brand Spamming: Yeah, let’s spam Google Earth! This huge KFC logo (Google Earth) was formed from 65,000 1-foot-square tiles laid out in the Mojave desert that took six days to put together. Other corporate giants who can afford to
spam us do product placement in Google Earth include Ford who have placed a large logo on the roof of their HQ and Coca Cola who used 70,000 empty coke bottles for their logo on a hillside in Chile.
St. Patrick Fanboy
17. St Patrick Fanboy: OK, everyone might like St. Patrick’s Day, but this is taking it just a step too far don’t you think? I’d rather go to my local parade and shout abuse at the leprechauns. I’m also slightly annoyed that they missed the apostrophe: it’s St. Patrick’s Day not St. Patricks. Argghh! Links: Google Maps
NB: Over time these flukes will probably be removed as Google updates their data and creates even more bizarre sights.