Airbus Draws Christmas Tree in Skies Over Germany
Possibly the biggest Christmas tree in the history of ever
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Making the most of a test flight over Germany and Denmark earlier this week, an Airbus A380 drew a giant Christmas tree on the map – ornaments included.
The five and a half hour flight started and ended at Hamburg Finkenwerder airport. The A380 flew in a straight line towards the southwest, making a loop just south of Bremen.
After a zig in easterly direction and a zag to resume its southwesterly course, another loop produced another bauble. At Cologne, the plane took a nice round bend towards the northeast, produced another ornament, looped back in southwesterly direction, performed another loop, and so on.
The base of the tree is a line running from Karlsruhe to the east. After zig-zagging past Brunswick and Wolfsburg, the plane set course back for Hamburg, only to continue north towards Denmark.
Its long straight trajectory ended over Aalborg, where the plane made a few more loops to finish off the tree-topper, after which the plane returned to Hamburg.
The giant Christmas tree over Germany and Denmark was not the result of a rogue pilot's actions (like the giant penis that recently appeared over the U.S.), but was an intentional season's greeting by Airbus to planespotters everywhere.
“This was a standard test flight for internal purposes at Airbus, prior to our delivery of a new aircraft to one of our customers. Its curious pattern was made possible thanks to the friendly and cooperative spirit of Deutsche Flugsicherung (the company in charge of air traffic control for Germany) and Eurocontrol (the international organisation monitoring air traffic management across Europe)”.
Strange Maps #875
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