In it for the long haul
It’s an innocuous looking graph posted to Reddit’s Data is Beautiful boards about airport tarmac to most, but to others (like us) it raises a curious question: why does Uppington (pop 74,000) in the Northern Cape have one of the longest runways in the world? For non-locals, Uppington is best described as your last chance to buy meat before heading into the Kgalagadi desert that straddles South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. It’s the staging post for the Bloodhound supersonic car test because it is hours away from anywhere. And the reason it has more tarmac than Heathrow (well, one of Heathrow’s runways) just makes the fact even odder – in the 1960s it was deemed the most strategic place for long-haul passenger jets to take off from for direct flights to Europe. Strategic, that is, in every way except for the fact that you need to take another long haul flight to get to the airport.