Not all skydivers have a nerdy side to them, but those that do, often make brilliant stuff happen for other skydivers.
AJ Stuyvenberg (say that five times fast) is one of those. He sent a tweet our way the other day, casually mentioning that he had put together a wee little visualizer, to help people wrap their heads around winds aloft. On the website, you can watch a visual representation of the direction of winds and how it changes as you climb (or descend). Wind speed and direction of winds (in degrees) is shown above the slider. You can check it out here. The website utilizes the three character IATA airport codes, so you’ll need to figure out which stations around you give you the best results.
Interesting, we thought – and decided to get in touch to find out a little bit more about AJ and this project.
BSM: First we wanted to know if he was a proper skydiver, so we asked for the usual stats. Home DZ, # of jumps, favorite discipline? We weren’t surprised when he said he was a wingsuiter.
AJ: Skydive Twin Cities, 318 jumps, wingsuit.
BSM: Are you a weather nut?
AJ: Not particularly, but I am a software nut. I spend most of my time dreaming up ideas for applications or tools I could build – but like most tinkerers, my idea list is longer than my working projects list.
BSM: What made you decide to get up and develop this winds aloft visualizer?
AJ: I’m a software engineer by trade, and I tend to play around building web applications for fun. Last year a friend showed me the NOAA winds aloft page before heading out for a BASE jump. To put it nicely – I thought it could use some improvements. I had heard about the D3 JS visualization library at the Twin Cities Coder Camp, and started playing with it. Last night I spent about 6 hours coding, and was able to get something workable deployed.
BSM: You have plans to cover more of the country, any timeline on that?
AJ: Definitely. I’m an optimist – I can probably cover the rest of the country shortly**. I’ve also signed up with Weather Underground, they provide a neat developer application programming interface (API) that I can use in hopes of providing ground winds data as well.
This project is available on GitHub, so if you happen to be so inclined, you can lend a hand. But be warned, extreme geekiness ahead.
**and as a side note – we believe the “whole country” bit is already happening!