Now, airline maps might seem like a pretty niche subject, even for an indie magazine, but I’ve enjoyed this mag so much.
We all remember that excitement the first time you get on a plane. Even when I’m dreading what fresh horrors lie in wait on a short haul flight, there’s still something magical about the plane picking up speed…
Direction of Travel captures this feeling and wraps it up in a whole bunch of nostalgia with a collection of amazing vintage maps from two airlines each issue. Many of the maps come from the personal collection of maker, Christian Nolle. They’re scanned in from physical maps, (‘nothing from the internet,’ the front cover assures). You can see the creases and the worn edges which almost makes it feel like the real thing.
My interests in history, geography, language and design were all piqued at some point, and the copy Christian sent me is still at the top of my (massive) pile of magazines as I can’t stop having another little shufty.
We asked editor, publisher, and map collector, Christian Nolle, to introduce it formally. So, this is your Captain speaking…
What sparked your interest in airline maps and when did this start?
I have been into flying for as long as I remember and for the last 10-15 years created a number of projects about aviation. Some of these have been photography based, others digital. For instance, a few years ago we made an interactive map at my digital studio, which charts the routes of all known Aircraft Stowaways. These are individuals who have hidden inside the landing wheel bay. Throughout I have been collecting airline maps but it wasn’t until I visited the San Francisco Airline Museum that I realised I was sitting on quite a big collection that I could do something interesting with.
I love the newspaper format. Why do you choose this form for Direction of Travel?
I had been thinking about creating some sort of publication about airline maps, but I wasn’t sure what form it would take and then it occurred to me that the newspaper might be an ideal medium, you have a huge amount of space to play with. There is also something very immediate about a newspaper, you are very close to the paper if that makes sense. There is a sense of the material, which is sometimes lost when old vintage printed matter is reproduced. I didn’t want these maps to be precious and also of course it’s fairly straightforward now to have a newspaper printed.
Is there a golden age of airline maps?
Probably the 1950s, just after the second world war when airlines were expanding and radically altering our perception of air travel. So much was happening and this is reflected in how quickly the maps evolved.
Is this a solo project or is there a Direction of Travelteam? How does the mag come together?
It’s just me at the moment with a few regular contributions. That might change as the project evolves. For each volume I like to combine one of two airlines that either sit together or apart geographically or politically. I start with some of the key maps and then slowly weave the volume together, working out what airport to focus on and researching.
What does the future hold for DoT?
It’s becoming more of an editorial project, I am writing more now and creating more of a context around the maps, what they mean and what they show, and sometimes what they don’t show.
What other indie mags ‘give you wings?’
I have a soft spot for the Marine Quarterly. It’s a small magazine about all things marine. The other one I have enjoyed recently is Desired Landscape, a magazine about cities. Both of these are pocket-sized.
Oh yes, I’ve got a copy of Desired Landscapes right here. Must investigate Marine Quarterly. Finally in our digital age, why make a print magazine?
It’s a completely different experience with print, you tend to have people’s full attention. It’s tactile of course, it’s transferable, and doesn't run out of battery. For my day job, I run a small digital studio. Direction of Travel is a very welcome antidote to that world even when the digital work and studio work overlap in subject.
Direction of Travel Volume 1 is in the shop here.
A 1955 American Airlines map complete with board game and fun facts about planes, and a brief history of the inflight map. From Direction of Travel