The World, Traced by Airport Runways, by James Davenport, creates a world map using only the land occupied by airports and runways.

Davenport says: The Mexican border "is traced in stark detail, creating a poignant visual reminder of the dichotomy in wealth between these neighbors.”

North America and Europe are a veritable sea of blue.

With strong points of articulation across busy areas like Australia and Brazil.

Though some of the blank spots might have to do with the reliability of the data in those countries in comparison to places in the developing world.

In a world of budget airlines increasingly bringing passengers to more and more obscure locales, it’s striking to see just how much of the world remains completely disconnected.

Despite the banality of air travel, for much of the globe, it remains exotic.

Despite the banality of air travel, for much of the globe, it remains exotic.

Despite the banality of air travel, for much of the globe, it remains exotic.

2013-07-10

A World Of Only Airports Is A Strikingly Different Place

A new mapping project uses only airport runways as geographic reference points, and gives a picture of a world where mobility isn’t available to everyone.

Air travel is an economic lifeline of the global economy, so it goes without saying that centers of global power are where the world’s airports are concentrated. A new mapping project makes that connection explicit, by drawing a map of the world based solely on where airports are located.

The World, Traced by Airport Runways by James Davenport uses a data dump of 45,132 runways on Earth to re-envision a map of the globe using those markers as the only geographic reference. North America and Europe are a veritable sea of blue, with strong points of articulation across busy areas like Australia and Brazil. (Part of that probably has to do with the reliability of the data in those countries in comparison to places in the developing world.)

“The most dramatic and surprising transition is between the U.S. and Mexico,” Davenport told Co.Design. “America is a beehive of runways and helipads that fades gradually into Canada. [Around Mexico] the border is traced in stark detail, creating a poignant visual reminder of the dichotomy in wealth between these neighbors.”

Indeed, in a world of budget airlines increasingly bringing passengers to more and more obscure locales, it’s striking to see just how much of the world remains completely disconnected. Despite the banality of air travel, for much of the globe, it remains exotic.

Add New Comment

2 Comments

  • Steve

    I guarantee you that you couldn't land a budget airliner at 99% of the airports on your map. Also I would be willing to bet you don't have half the private and grass airstrips that small aircraft use.

    Basically total nonsense.

  • kitoomal

    You say in the summary that the airport mapping "gives a picture of a world where mobility isn’t available to everyone." But take India as a case in point. We are hardly visible in terms of airports, but we have the 4th largest rail network in the world as of 2009 (as of today, probably the largest). While I liked the concept, mobility is not defined by air travel. In the US, air travel is more prevalent than rail, but in Europe apparently it's the other way round.