The Chicago Tribune published a story yesterday about a brewing deal for an $8.5-billion expansion of Chicago O'Hare, along with a companion article showing the ten longest non-stop routes from O'Hare. The companion article was developed using data from the Great Circle Mapper and includes a map (not from the Great Circle Mapper) showing the ten routes. Following a geodesic path, i.e., the shortest-distance path, all of these flights start off heading within 42º of due north, with the majority of them at least grazing the Arctic Circle. (Actual paths vary due to winds, with eastward flights likely staying at much lower latitudes.)
Curiously, the longest flight from O'Hare is the second oldest of the ten, a flight to Hong Kong first flown by United Airlines in 1996 with a Boeing 747-400. Only #10 to Seoul has been flown longer, and that route moved from Gimpo to Incheon in 2001.
Today's Featured Map shows a twist on the Chicago Tribune's map, rotated such that the north pole is directly above Chicago rather than being above Greenwich (0º longitude), emphasizing the north-ish headings from Chicago. Doing this requires two tweaks the map settings: explicitly selecting a polar orthopgrahic projection rather than the default "best" projection, and specifying O'Hare as the map center. With the polar-aspect orthographic projection, the map is still centered on a pole (the north pole in this case), but the longitude of the specified center is used. Which rotation is better depends on the audience and personal preference; often the "best" map to represent an idea is as much art as science.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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