Happy memories of great landings

I understand that for many people flying is a bit of a chore.  Whenever I fly I’ve noticed that a large number of passengers couldn’t care less about the take-off or landing, and would much rather read than concern themselves with what’s happening outside the aircraft.  That attitude is fine.  Pilots are paid handsomely, so let them think about what’s happening during take-off and landing.

I’m not like that.  I like to look out the window, especially during take-off and landing.  It’s not because I’m worried or afraid, on the contrary, it’s more that I’m really fascinated by the view of Earth that you can get from the air.

You really get to see the world from a different perspective when you are flying on a clear day over land.

I like take-off, but prefer landings, simple because you descend on a steady incline, so have time to have a good look about.

I flew back into my home city of Perth, Western Australia this morning, and it was fantastic.  You see, I’ve flown into Perth dozens of times and know the views quite well.  Today, we flew in on a different course, and so I got a totally new view, which included flying in quite low over the city and being able to admire it as we did so.  It was a beautiful sunny morning, the city and the Swan River were glistening, and it was such a pleasurable experience to just watch and enjoy the million dollar view.

It just reminded me of some of the memorable views that I’ve seen from plane windows, so here’s a couple that I will share.

Flying over Carnarvon, Western Australia.  Now Carnarvon is not really an exciting spot.  It’s quite a small town on the Indian Ocean coast about half way up the West Australian coastline.  The town isn’t much, but on this particular beautiful day, we were flying just off the coast, and you can see the great ribbon of road that is the Great Northern Highway as it dissects the barren landscape below.  Ordinarily, from 37,000 you can’t see cars below.  I couldn’t see cars travelling the highway, but I could see the road trains – prime movers which haul three or four long trailers behind them.  They are so long; they are easy to spot from 37,000 feet.

Watching a huge electrical storm as we flew parallel to it over the Indonesian Island of Sumatra.  Late at night, with no lights on in the cabin, the hundreds of lightning flashes were quite spectacular, and is still the best light show I’ve ever seen.

Another night flight, this time over the Persian Gulf.  A clear night, but the sea was lit up with the flames of burning gas from dozens of oil wells, a really tremendous sight.

Flying reasonably low over a series of active volcanoes in East Java, Indonesia.  Being able to see their perfect cone shapes, and looking directly into their steaming craters.  An awesome site!

Finally, my favourite landings of all, but you can’t do it now.  Flying into Hong Kong’s former airport Kai Tak.  You actually flew between the high rise buildings, and you could see the residents going about their business inside their apartments as you flew by.  Suddenly, the plane would turn right to make one of the most spectacular landings ever, with the lights of Hong Kong dazzling you as you landed on a runway which seemingly took you right out into the middle of Hong Kong Harbour. Magic!

If you have any favourite sights or experiences from aircraft that you’d like to share, please describe it as a comment, I’d love to read it.

4 comments to Happy memories of great landings

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