A Rare Lapse of Google Earth: Chinese Airline Crash

We're so used to the all-seeing powers of Google Earth that it is surprising when it can't provide an aerial view of whatever locale is most recently in the news. Yet that is the circumstance with the crash today, in northeast China -- 东北 ("EastNorth") in Chinese, "Manchuria" in outdated English -- at the Lindu airport 林都机场 in the city of Yichun 伊春 in Heilongjian province 黑龙江省.

The airport has been built recently enough that the Google Earth view of the environs shows only forested and undeveloped land:

The little blue squares are links to geotagged photos of the airport itself, for instance this one -- of a typical-looking provincial airport control tower (I've been to a lot of these places):


For the past six or eight years Chinese airlines have been statistically the safest in the world, since there have been no reported fatal crashes. I am actually writing about the phenomenal boom in Chinese air travel, and the sudden appearance of such airports all across the country is part of the saga. It is again a sign of the pace of change that Google Earth has not caught up. Sympathies to all families affected by this crash.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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