The Eye in the Sky

3 07 2008

Australia Air 1

Can I change the channel? (over Western Australia)


The first glimpse I ever had of Africa was of the twinkling lights of Algeria as we slipped across the coast at 35,000 feet on our way to Nairobi. The first peak of continental South America was the pulsing lights of Venezuela as we headed for Paramaribo. And the first look I ever had of Australia was through a hole in the cloud as we were on final approach to Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport. 



Yes, I’m an aero-voyeur. I’m the guy with the flat nose and the mark on his forehead who spends much of the flight staring out the window.


I am that lucky traveller who really enjoys flying. I love the turning taxi onto the runway, and the acceleration of take-off. I like the climb into clouds, the tight bank to get on course and I even enjoy a bit of turbulence just to remind me that I am in fact flying and not just sitting in a fancy bus.


And, I really enjoy aerial rubber-necking.


My only views of the Cayman Islands, Iran, Ireland, India, Capri, Lake Superior, Lake Tahoe, The Caspian Sea, Newfoundland, Norway, Panama and the Hollywood sign have come on airline flights. I’ve seen ice bergs, the Aurora Borealis, a magnificent electrical storm over the African equator and the sun-washed snow-capped peaks of the Andes, Alps and Rockies. I’ve thirsted for the teal and aqua waters of the Indian Ocean and ached for the endless white ribbon of sand along Queensland’s coast.


The sight of the endless green canopy of the Amazon, dissected by winding brown rivers and the whisper-like spirals of smoke from unseen villages gave me my first love for the magnificence of jungle and the perils of deforestation. The fragility of Mount Kilimanjaro’s snowcap when passing almost within touching distance solidified my concern for its threatened existence, while the infinite darkness of central Africa, Australia and Canada’s far north were evidence of the insignificance of individuals on our huge home planet.


Australia Air 2

Aerial photography…or Aboriginal art? (over Western Australia)

The vast ochres, reds and browns of the Australian Outback gave me better appreciation of so much Aboriginal art and the inspiration it draws from the land while the myriad colours and shapes of legendary rivers, rugged coastlines and enormous mountains brought years of school geography lessons to life.


The Grand Canyon is grand, Ireland is the Emerald Isle and Paris is indeed the City of Light.


The interactive on-demand seat-back entertainment systems that many airlines are now adopting might be getting better and better, but for me, the best entertainment during any flight can be found through the double-layers of scratched Perspex just inches from my head.




Photos and post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008




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