Google will now allow you to take a virtual aerial trip in Google Maps/Earth along a contemplated route. They’ve informally called it “helicopter view.” It’s a pretty cool feature, although perhaps not as “useful” as traffic information.
You plot a route (“Get Directions”) between two points and click a button and the animation takes over. Here are some shots from a San Francisco to Los Angeles driving trip I laid out:
After you’ve picked two points, you initiate the “helicopter tour” by clicking a “3D” button adjacent to the routing information.
This also works in Europe: Barcelona to Paris and Paris to Prague were two additional routes I also plotted.