Heathrow Airport Limited, had a big idea to stage a showcase 2016 charity event of the year linked to none other than an aeronautical theme! Race the plane was conceived to raise funds for the international charity Oxfam. The challenge - 28 bikes to race a real life plane across the Atlantic from New York-JFK to London-Heathrow.
The aim was to encourage participating teams to raise a target of £100,000 and provide a truly engaging experience for both competitor and audience. The intended location setting was to be a designated space in the departure area in Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. Large scale screens would be used to display a visual representation of the combined bike progress versus the real life position of the plan.
3 x 10, 25 & 50 mile National Time Trial champion, Mathew Bottrill were amongst the competitors ready to take on the challenge.
When Xncreations were approached to help we were excited by the prospect of being able to pitch to be part of this novel and impressive concept as the software supplier. The added bonus was knowing that funds were being raised for such a worthwhile cause, helping to prevent global poverty.
Working in conjunction with Capgemini, and to a tight deadline, we were responsible for gathering bike data from the 28 teams, providing a real time leader board of team/individual progress and calculating the real time position of the group versus the plane.
Reliability and speed were important factors we had to consider for a live event of this nature. At the core of the solution was the combination of the use of local web servers, an in-house mapping library, a highly available user interface plus lots of testing. On site technical support was provided to ensure the smooth running of the event.
The event ran for over 6 hours and saw more than 280 particpants taking part in the exciting charity challenge. Unsurprisingly, Matt Bottrill and his team won the day for the most miles cycled during the event. Maybe more surprisingly, the aggregated speed of the bikes was enough to beat the plane, with a combined average speed of 564 Mph.
A truly exciting journey with no delays or baggage allowances exceeded!