Designer Aaron Koblin has taken US flight traffic data and turned it into beautiful animations. The work is entitled Flight Patterns. This reminds me of the visualization plugins that come with media players, such as Winamp’s AVS, where stunning patterns are generated via complex mathematical formulas, controlled by the wavepatterns of the music played.
Aaron provides some more info on his site:
Flight pattern visualizations were the result of experiments leading to the project Celestial Mechanics by Scott Hessels and Gabriel Dunne. FAA data was parsed and plotted using the Processing programming environment. The frames were composited with Adobe After Effects and/or Maya and the final piece was highlighted at SIGGRAPH 2005 in the NVIDIA Immersive Dome Experience.