I haven’t been on many planes in my time.
Only a grand total of 7 so far (odd number because I had to get a connection on my way to the AACR conference in Florida last year!). Many others my age and younger have been on more than that before they’ve celebrated 7 birthdays. When I fly, I’m generally quite overwhelmed by the stress of the airport, but I enjoy the flight itself. Here are some musings about that.
A privilege once reserved for the wealthy. Flights for 50p? Perhaps not, but taking away taxes, fuel and passenger duty, these two flights only cost me £6. It is now so common to fly, but not all of us are well-accustomed to it.
The runways are so busy! Air traffic control has their work cut out. Taxi into position…
It’s difficult to compare the acceleration of take-off to anything, perhaps a rollercoaster, or a high-speed train, but you know they’ll (hopefully) stay fixed to their tracks.
Lifting off the tarmac, increasing altitude, staring through the window at the wings – thinking of the engineering. Visible airflows hint at the physics of lift.
Perhaps some perpetual worry. The duration and frequency of aviation gives reassurance, the technology is well-tested, the years of training. Maths and engineering and chemistry and physics all together to make this possible.
Sunbeams break through the clouds, pointing down at the retreating buildings. Mid-air, this is not my domain. We are born tethered to the ground by gravity, it’s normal only to see birds flying up there. But this huge metal machine allows us to achieve what evolution has taken millennia to give flying creatures.
To the clouds
In England, they so often obscure our view of the Sun, and its of us. But after the houses have become so tiny, the river and lakes all glassy, now the fog of the clouds envelops us and the view disappears.
All is grey but then, suddenly, some light. We emerge above the layer of water vapour that used to be overhead – now below. The tops of the clouds. Something I’d never seen until recently. Surely they were none of my business..?
But there they are, fluffy, like mashed potato. Like candy floss. Higher up still, like a sprawling, infinite glacier. But sometimes, a break in the cloudscape – below it, far below, the land. Man-made features almost indistinguishable now.
Wine & crisps at 20,000 feet.
Over 530 miles per hour. Almost to Paris now – perhaps it would have been even quicker on the train at least to this point. Yes, that train, the one that crosses the sea through a tunnel under the water. As much as I love trains, this is different. Better? Not sure. I can’t spot any animals from here (it’d worry me if I did).
But it has made me think. Is that good?
I’m on holiday.