AIRSPACE: infrastructure above

Posted in CARTOGRAPHY, INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSIT by urbanmi on March 17, 2013


Visual Flight Rule (VFR) maps allow pilots to fly with visual reference to the ground; as described by Wikipedia: “VFR are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going.” 1 Above is a Hybrid VFR map overlaid with a map of Michigan showing a combination of World Aeronautical (WAC) charts, sectional raster chars, and VFR Terminal Area Raster Charts.

I’m fascinated by the foreign language and accrued knowledge of another profession/hobby taking a familiar geographical context and imbuing the map with new symbols, iconography, and terms, giving it an alien understanding.


(Above Left: Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo VFRs. Above Right: Detroit VFR)

The new information alters the area of influence of each city and metropolitan region. The scale of the city grows, and the conception of what is Detroit, Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo evolves similarly. Separations shrink, time shortens and the map with this new information translates these new relationships. The radius of Detroit and DTW overlaps and consumes the smaller neighboring airports and cities deafening the voices and significance of these smaller cities.

The density of information is captivating, revealing the governance of the airspace above each urban, suburban and rural landscape and the regulations of another industry placed upon it by the FAA.



(Above: Grand Rapids comparison of Hybrid VFR and IFR)

These maps reveal how much thicker the sectional experience of a place is in reality. The Instrument Flight Rules map diagrams the flight paths and approaches to each airport. They are maps of auditory sensations and the intermittent visual ephemera. The flight paths unveil trajectories where the sensation of planes and jets above are greatest. These maps can allow designers and architects to anticipate the implications of plane travel in a tangible way through sound-proof planning. Cities can strategize locations to improve or take advantage of plane-watching with parks and public spaces.

Currently, in Grand Rapids, there is one location to sit and watch the planes land; it is a hidden treasure. The experience, however, could be greatly improved it is currently just a parking lot and a chain link fence, it is uncomfortable, and staying there for any prolonged period of time feels unwelcome.


(Above:These VFR maps also contain data on every airport in addition to the charts and maps.)

Airports can be grand, and they can be part of the urban experience, not just an after thought or an unpleasant consequence of the utilitarian need for rapid travel over long distances. In San Diego, due to the airport’s proximity to the urban center of the city, planes are ever-present. Throughout the city planes can be heard and felt (for better or for worse), but there are many parks where you can lay and watch the planes fly over and allow yourself to enjoy their existence.


via: Iamtheweather


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