New Seven Wonders Of The World
By Ron Blehm (8 June 2007)
The "New 7 Wonders of the World" campaign was begun in 1999 by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, who thought it was "time for something new to bring the world together" and to "symbolize a common pride in global cultural heritage." The foundation aims to promote cultural diversity by supporting, preserving and restoring monuments throughout the world. Initially nearly 200 sites were presented for consideration but the final list of 21 has been in place for over a year and the final seven will be announced on July 7th in Lisbon.
So I thought to myself, "Hey, even though few if any of these "wonders" will be displayed in FS, why not take a tour of all 21 final sites and throw in the initial six as well?" So here's what I did: I took a world map and planned a route to all 27 sites (plus Lisbon); I used some appropriate airliners and real-time weather for the long legs and then I took up smaller planes, in default weather, for a local tour at each site. Join me now in this feature of, "Coming together to appreciate global cultural history in the context of flight sim"!
One = Statue of Liberty, New York City:The 305 foot statue in New York Harbor has welcomed immigrants and symbolized freedom since 1886, when it was dedicated as a gift from the French government. So far as I'm concerned, this is too new (less than 300 years old) to be considered for the new list - but you may disagree with me (image below, left).
From New York I took a 757 to Cozumel, Mexico (image above, right).
Two = Pyramid at Chichen Itza', Mexico:This step pyramid surmounted by a temple was part of a sacred site in an important Mayan center on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. It is built according to the solar calendar. Shadows at the fall and spring equinoxes are said to look like a snake crawling down the steps, similar to the carved serpent at the top. An older pyramid inside features a jade-studded, red jaguar throne.
I was happy to see that there are two Chichen Itza airports in FS2004 but despite my efforts (and hope) there were no pyramids to be found (image below, left). From Mexico I flew a DC-8 into Rio, Brazil (image below, right).
Three = Christ The Redeemer Statue, Brazil:While I have been here in real life, and it is incredible, this is another site that I personally, consider too new to be on the list. The 125 foot statue of Christ with outstretched arms overlooks Rio de Janeiro from atop Mount Corcovado (image below, left). The statue was built in pieces in France starting in 1926, and shipped to Brazil. A railway carried it up the 2343 foot mountain for the 1931 inauguration. I'm also detecting a theme here with pieces from France...
I don't believe this statue is included in the default scenery but my add-on (from the freeware file library) has it along with the Sugar Loaf aerial tram. From Rio I flew a DC-4 into Arequipa, Peru (image above, right).
Four = Machu Picchu, Peru:Built by the Incan empire in the 15th century, Machu Picchu's walls, palaces, temples and dwellings are perched in the clouds at 8,000 feet above sea level in the Andes and overlooking a lush valley 310 miles from Lima.
Despite four passes through the valley and up the hillsides (near the max altitude for this little Baron) I could not find any ruins in FS2004 (image below,left). From Arequipa I flew a 738ER to Isla de Pascua (Materavi International), Chile (image below, right). There is a VOR at 117.10 and a nice long runway.
Five = The Heads Of Easter Island, Chile:Hundreds of massive stone busts, or moais, are all that remains from the prehistoric Rapanui culture that crafted them between 400 and 1,000 years ago to represent deceased ancestors. Some statues are more than 70 feet tall. Some are restored, some not. They all gaze inland, with their back to the Pacific Ocean and the Chilean mainland 1,000 miles away.
One of our Flight Club's (www.toomuchfs.com) Monthly Feature flights was to Easter Island back in 2004. Most of us were using FS2002 back then and we had a nice view of all the "Moais" scattered about the island. This time I took up a TBM Avenger (left over from World War II) for the tour around the island (image below, left). I was surprised to see NO HEADS! Now, why would MS remove default scenery? Aren't they supposed to be ADDING details and adding eye-candy and making the world more "real"? So then, I wondered, why would Microsoft take out something like this - it couldn't have been that much of a system drain! Just to be sure I flew at treetop level over the island again...still no heads but a rockin' good time. I will tell you however that with the heads removed, MS put in a nice, navigable road all around the island - with no Moais to see. I'm not sure why you'd take the drive around but you can if you want to (image below, right).
Post Script: My six-year old son likes to drive race cars in FS (we don't need another PC game to socially isolate us from our families, so he drives the roads (or not) in FS). Some weeks later he was driving a concept car all around Easter Island, I was in the other room as Benjamin was running his own commentary: "Sharp turn...screeeeetch...big hill...yeeeehaaaaaaa! Tree! Watchout! Eeerrrrrrrrtch...Airborne!!!!! Whooooo-Hoooo! Giant statue...off the jump...Whooooooo-eeeeee...corner...ssskkkkrrreeeeeeetchh!"
I was like, "Hey wait! Stop the car, stop the car!!!!!!!" I'm sure with my socks on the wood flooring I looked much like his car skidding into the room!
"What?" He asked.
"Turn around, turn around! What did you see - A giant statue?"
He executed a perfect three-point U-turn and slowly drove back to the giant Moais sitting right near the road (image below, left). "Humph!" I said, "I guess MS did put some heads in here." Well, great, I stand corrected, now you CAN see the heads of Easter Island - just not from the air.
With a 10,800-foot runway this airport can accommodate even the biggest, modern heavy jets. So I chose a C-17 for the long flight to Sydney - Just under 6,000 miles in fact (image above, right). (Down a little early and it was really windy as you can see from my slip-angle!)
Six = Sydney Opera House, Australia:On Bennelong Point reaching into Sydney's harbor, the opera house was designed by Danish architect Jorn Ultzon and opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II. (This time I'll save comment on the new structure...1973...puleeze.) Its roof resembles a ship in full sail and is covered by more than 1 million white tiles. The building has over 1000 rooms (image below, left).
Okay, opera house seen...bridge flown under...moving on. From Sydney I took an L-1011 to Ph'nom Penh, Cambodia (images above, center and right).
Seven = Angkor, Cambodia:The archaeological site in Siem Reap was the capital of the K'hmer Empire from the ninth to the 15th centuries AD. It served as administrative center and place of worship for a prosperous kingdom that stretched from Vietnam to China and the Bay of Bengal. The 12th-century ruins include Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
As near as I could tell from Google Earth, this is about 120 miles northwest of Ph'nom Penh, on the north side of a large lake. Sure enough, FS has provided an airport at Siem Reap, 128 miles from Ph'nom Penh. Not expecting to find anything (image below, left), I took the 90-minute trip in a PC-12. After innumerable laps around the area I landed and went looking for a good restaurant. From Siem Reap I flew a C-141 to Osaka, (not Kansai) Japan (image below, right).
Eight = Kiyomizu Temple, Japan:Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera, which means Clear Water Temple, was founded by a Buddhist sect in AD 798 and rebuilt in 1633 after a fire. Drinking from its three-stream waterfall is believed to confer health, longevity and success. I took a Japanese "Val" dive-bomber up over Kyoto for the search for this temple. Actually, if one sets about to look, there are several temple-looking buildings in and around the autogen (image below, left). Finally up in the foothills, about where I expected it (image below, center), I found a small little temple building - visible immediately under the plane. Not so impressive to look at but I was happy to have, apparently, found what I was looking for.
From Osaka I flew an A318 to Beijing, China (image above, right).
Nine = Great Wall, China:The 4,160-mile barricade is the world's longest manmade structure. The fortification was built to protect various dynasties from invasion by the Huns, Mongols, Turks and other nomadic tribes. Construction took place over hundreds of years, beginning in the seventh century, B.C. Now that's old!
In Beijing it was easy to buy a map of the Great Wall, then, back at the airport I found an NDB right at one of the wall's viewing points. I took off in the Baron 58 and flew to the NDB, then followed the terrain according to the map. There was a road that seemed to follow the track of the Great Wall but no actual 3-D wall shown in FS (images left and center, below).
From Beijing I flew a 777 into Agra, India (image above, right). This is listed as a military airport and the runway is awfully narrow for a Boeing wide-body like the 773!
Ten = Taj Mahal in Agra, India:The white marble-domed mausoleum in Agra was built by a 17th-century Mogul emperor for his favorite wife, who died in childbirth. The architecture combines Indian, Persian and Islamic styles. Currently, the complex houses the graves of the emperor, his wife and other royalty.
Taking off from the airport in Agra I immediately spotted the famous white marble buildings. I took several passes in the little RG shooting plenty of photos (image below, left).
From Agra it is an A321 that takes me to Baghdad, Iraq (image above, right).
Eleven = The Hanging Gardens of Babylon:This is the first of the former list and tragically, these spectacular floral and fauna gardens complete with a water reservoir system, have gone the way of the former Babylonian Empire. Now-a-days as we fly between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, over Baghdad, we can only imagine the gardens that famous Biblical characters such as Daniel and Queen Esther enjoyed (image, right).
One cannot fly here in this era and not be moved by the political upheaval and trauma this area is suffering. I can only hope and pray that one day a new majestic garden will again grace a peaceful landscape, "between the rivers."
This concludes part number one of our tour to the final 21 sites under consideration for the New Seven Wonders of the World. Join me again in just a couple of week for the final run to the finish line in Lisbon where, on July 7th, they will announce the New, Seven Wonders of the World.