Saturday, January 13, 2018

If my life was an airline, this would be my route map

     I recently came across a neat website called Great Circle Mapper that makes it easy to display customized airline routes. I decided to enter all the flights I've ever taken (anyone surprised that I keep track of such things?) so I could visualize all the places I've been privileged to go.
     This globe shows the result. It's my version of the Bible maps of Paul's missionary journeys—only without any shipwrecks.
     The green routes span my newspaper career, mostly in Greenville. I wore a leisure suit on my first flight, at age 20, when my benevolent editor/great uncle Slim Hembree sent me to Omaha to cover the College World Series for the Anderson Independent. I have to thank Woodruff's Tony Rice for getting me to Phoenix, and Clemson's Rick Barnes for the junket to Puerto Rico.
     The yellow routes are flights I've made since joining Samaritan's Purse in 1999. Back in 2005, I departed on a 22,664-mile round-the-world trip to report on our tsunami relief work in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. We flew east via London and the Maldives to Sri Lanka, and after we continued over to Indonesia, the most direct way home was to keep flying east via Taipei and Los Angeles. (On a 40-minute backwards hop from Kuala Lumpur to Medan, we crossed a time zone and landed earlier than we took off.)
     The flight over the North Pole was from New York to Beijing to report on the 2008 earthquake in China. That yellow dot in the Sahara Desert is Timbuktu, where I had the privilege of helping to hand out Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. Most recently was a five-leg 17,330-mile round trip to Burundi to report on the ministry of one of our surgical teams.
     Here is the flat-earth view:

     Great Circle Mapper says I've flown 327,090 miles to 90 airports in 35 countries. If you figure 500 miles per hour, that's about two weeks of my life spent jammed into airplane seats.
     (On the other hand, I've probably driven close to a million miles. At 50mph, that would be over two years behind the wheels of the Mustangs, Spitfire, Bobcat, Hyundai, Lumina, Windstar, Saturn, Tribute, Accord, and CX-5.)
     These maps only show the places with airport codes like ATL, JFK, and 34NC (the helipad atop Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte). Some of the places I've flown don't have codes, including several dirt strips in Africa and a float-plane landing at Dick Proennecke's cabin in Alaska.
SILLY JET! What else can you do with Great Circle Mapper? Well, the navigators of a Boeing 787 used an 18-hour test flight to draw a self-portrait. Click here!

En route to Darfur, Africa, I had a photo-op in the cockpit of a DC-3 built for World War II.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome. I envy your Andersonson-bred worldliness.