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5/07/2008 - Watching The World Go By
As I sit here in seat 22A, on a United Airlines red-eye flight between San Francisco (SFO) and Philadelphia (PHL), I often can't help but watch the world go by. It's not because I am forced to sit in a window seat on 99% of my flights, because obviously I usually have the option of choosing my seat.
As I began my journey from the west coast to the east coast tonight (my fourth flight in 3 days and my second transcontinental flight in two days), our plane lifted off into a clear sky, through a dense fog (that blocked many in San Francisco from viewing the evening's fireworks display), and as we climbed out and United Flight 188 was handed off from 'NorCal Departure' to the next Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower the sky opened up again. Through a clear black sky I can see for hundreds of miles, from small pockets of light indicating a small town surrounded by emptiness to sprawling cities and endless clusters of lights.
The view from an airplane view can be monotonous. On long flights over the oceans you see nothing but water for hours at a time. Sometimes you'll see another plane in and can watch it pace you, pass you, or go in its own direction. However there are scenes of beauty you can never see from the ground, the colours of a sunrise or sunset dancing on the tops of clouds. The view of a full moon over the North Pole is breath taking, as is watching the sunrise and set over the polar ice cap.
The anticipation of flying to a destination near the coast and seeing the first glimpse of land and of course, the best view of watching your hometown come into view.
When I depart certain runways from New York's JFK I still have the same sense of giddiness when I can look down and spot where I grew up on, or the see the beach I was spend all my childhood summers on. On approaches into JFK and LaGuardia (LGA) I can enjoy the skyline I grew up in the shadow of from a vantage point that is unlike any others. I look forward to flying certain routes into Providence (PVD) that hug the Connecticut Shoreline as I can look out and often spot the town I am raising my kids in below me, this lets me know I'll be home soon.
So as I muse about watching the world go by, and how much I enjoy watching the landscape, the terrain, the awesome beauty of watching the Grand Canton pass by at sunset and the spectacle of the twinkling lights of Las Vegas after dark, one thing stays in the front of my mind.......
..........the best view is that of watching my home come into sight because the best flight is always the one that brings you home.