Voronoi diagram of airports

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/06/18/voronoi-diagram-of-internation.html


Super useful if you’re in a big hurry, on foot, bike or rowboat, and need to get somewhere, anywhere, doesn’t matter where, for cash.


Viewed from this perspective, the distribution of these airports seems amazingly rational and efficient, considering that it wasn’t until the late 20th century that there was a lot of thought given to regional planning.

Of course, I still drive three “sectors” away to fly anywhere because all the closer ones are 3-flights-a-day places that are booked solid months in advance or insanely expensive, but still–I applaud how sensible our air transportation system LOOKS here.

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…from space. Hilbert space, that is.


A fun fact: Easter Island has a single, long runway and no taxiway. Given its remoteness, an airplane headed to Easter Island will often have no diversion options. Accordingly, as any incident on the runway could render the airport useless, no airplane can use the runway if any airplane en route there has passed its own point of no return.

(It was also built as an abort option for the space shuttle in connection with planned flights from Vandenberg AFB)




I can’t remember if NASA had even thought of the problem of a Vandenberg abort when G. Harry Stine wrote Shuttle Down, but the political mess in the story played out pretty much the same when they did improve the runway.

My childhood dentist was a monster, but he did have Analog and F&SF and the like in his waiting room. I remember reading Shuttle Down when I was 11 or 12 or 13.

You’d think you could use the air strip while waiting many hours for an incoming as long as there was a bulldozer handy to push it off the runway if it got stuck.

But I bet the airport gets so little business even that is not a worthwhile expenditure. What does it cost to ship a bulldozer there and keep it idle all the time?

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Maybe small planes are okay, although there is of course no where for the small planes to go. But if you had a 757 break and you then needed to rescue people, a bulldozer might not be an option. Anyway, there are probably only a couple of flights a day, so it’s probably not a big problem schedule wise, just an interesting bit of logistics.

There was planning, of a sort, involved in the siting of the many airports that were originally military.

In the early 20th Century, long haul trips could take 15 hops if weather was bad, or happen in 3 if it was good and no-one wanted to get off in the middle. They used flying boats to rough out the route, because any river could be a landing strip. But once you had a successful route, it only took a day or so with a bulldozer to make a workable runway in the middle of nowhere. Aircraft with wheels were safer, more efficient, and easier to get in and out of than flying boats, so they moved the flying boats on and built a runway after 6 months. I imagine new routes were still being tested by other countries with the great Clipper aircraft of the 1930’s.

No, I don’t have a link - my sister gave my dad had a book on the early history of Aeroflot, and this is what I remember from that.

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That might have been the case for Aeroflot, most of whose flights would be over land. Airlines operating transoceanic routes still used flying boats as small islands could then be used as fuel stops. It was the huge number of airfields built everywhere for WW2, and the increased range of jet airliners, that killed the flying boat- though the British still tried building commercial flying boats in the 1950s:

Relatedly, the first commercial aircraft to circumnavigate the world was a Pan-Am Clipper- the crew found themselves en route to Auckland when the US entered WW2, and were ordered tobring the aircraft back to the US the long way round.

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