20 July 2010

A single moment of air traffic: 1956 vs. 2010

Air traffic over the Atlantic at a single moment in 1956 (4:00 a.m. GMT, May 6).

[Accompanying text reprinted at the end of this post.]

I couldn't a comparable recent graphic, but I did find this 2008 video showing all global air traffic in a single day. (So for a direct comparison, you could pause the video to generate a "single moment"; I believe 4 a.m. GMT would be right at the start, actually.)

And here's all the air traffic over the U.S. (and slightly beyond) at about 4:30 a.m. GMT on July 18, 2010.

The top image is from Life magazine, June 18, 1956. The text below the graphic says:

The extraordinary future of international air travel is best foretold in the busy pattern of the present. The map above shows air activity during a single actual moment in the air over the Atlantic--a quiet moment, darkened by night. it is 4 a.m. on May 6, 1956 in London, 11 p.m. of the evening before across the ocean in New York. But though the scene is far from human habitation, the air is filled with the roar of big planes, and with the disembodied voices of pilots, radio operators and traffic controllers exchanging information.

There are 110 planes engaged at this moment in flying over the ocean. Of them 39 are military aircraft on regular training missions or engaged in carrying personnel and cargo to and from overseas bases. One is an oil company plane headed from New York to Amsterdam. The remaining 70 are transport planes belonging to 18 airlines engaged in flying passengers and cargo regularly across the Atlantic. Aboard them are 3,295 passengers and crew. 

Two facts about the chart show how much of the air age is an American achievement. Every plane shown here was made in the U.S.--by Douglas, Lockheed, Boeing. And U.S. airlines are operate almost as many of the commercial planes (34) as as carriers from all other nations put together. 

These lanes over the Atlantic are the busiest in the international air. But at this moment other lines operating out of the U.S. and Europe are sending planes on around the globe in opposite directions to meet in distant places and bind the world in a careful meeting of flight schedules. 

1 comment:

  1. The journey is difficult, immense. We will travel as far as we can, but we cannot in one lifetime see all that we would like to see or to learn all that we hunger to know

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