Featured Map for 9 April 2023:
United's Island Hopper


One might guess that the Easter Bunny's favorite airline trip is United Airlines' legendary Island Hopper. This odyssey started in 1968 as a Continental Micronesia flight, operated using a Boeing 727, with six intermediate stops between Honolulu and Guam. Today, UA 154 uses a Boeing 737-800 twice weekly with five stops from Honolulu to Guam. (The airport at Johnston Island closed in 1970.) UA 155 is the return trip from Guam. In times past, these flights have operated 3-4 times weekly, sometimes skipping the stop at Kosrae Island.

In a time when aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 are connecting far-flung cities without intervening stops at hubs, the Island Hopper is an anachronism. It persists as a vital lifeline for the Pacific Islands which it serves. The flights carry two pairs of pilots (with one pair resting until reaching Majuro Atoll where they swap roles), a mechanic and spare parts, and has provisions to convert the first few rows of economy seating to medevac space for patients who need to be transported to Guam or Honolulu.

Today's Featured Map illustrates the Island Hopper's route, with the current routing in navy blue and historical variations in grey. It also introduces yet another new path type, spline paths, which build on the Bézier paths introduced last month. Where Bézier paths offer a better way to illustrate routes from hubs, splines are useful for multi-hop "milk runs" with clean curves rather than angular paths.

This map also uses a "railroad style" path, with fat paths and smaller contrasting discs at each stop, echoing a design often used in railroad maps. This style uses long-time features of the Great Circle Mapper in a combination that may not have been used before. It's a combination that works nicely for spline maps. (There are a few shortcomings in text placement with this style; resolution of them is in progress.)

References and additional information:



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