I'm one of those people who has to have a window seat. If I can't see that I'm flying I might as well be on a bus. I love looking out and watching the ground go by and trying to identify the geographic features. I get a thrill when I can figure out where we are at a given moment. I'm getting pretty good on the Burbank to Denver route via Las Vegas.
If it's at night, the lights of the towns and cities provide clues. If the ground is obscured I enjoy looking at the clouds. The massive thunderheads that frequently develop between here and Denver are incredible in their beauty and power. It is fascinating to watch the light and shadows play across the towering columns and billowing gorges as the plane weaves its way around them. I will show some of those images later.
But one of the things I always try to look for is other airplanes. Seeing another plane passing in the opposite direction or crossing your aircraft's vector at a different altitude, or especially flying in the same general heading, is exciting - but only from a reasonable distance. The closing speeds of modern jetliners is about 1,200 mph. It makes one quite aware of the intricate ballet that occurs daily in the airspace above our heads. That the safety record is as good as it is makes a powerful statement about the professionalism and dedication of pilots, aircrews, mechanics and flight controllers alike.
Incidentally, the most aircraft I've seen in one L.A. area-to-Denver trip is about 30 planes at various altitudes. Yes, I try to keep count.
This shot was taken in May of 2008 as we were approaching Las Vegas from Denver. The clouds were gorgeous and I saw an approaching airliner with a nice contrail. I was able to get a couple of shots off as I thought it would make a nice air-to-air image that most people don't get to see. Since I doubt I'll be getting any airborne photo-op formation rides any time soon, I figured this would be my best opportunity to get a photo that attempts to capture a bit of the beauty and romanticism of flight - such as it is in today's commercial air travel environment.
"Salt River Cliffs" ©
1 month ago