Just one pilot's attempt at taking an interesting picture every trip, often with a story to go with it. Come along for the ride.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm still abuzz about that London arrival


"Descend to 1-3-0."

"Descend to 1-2-0."


I found myself listening to London Control while admiring one of the all-time greatest views I've ever seen.

"Slow to 220 knots. Fly heading 1-7-0."

As we banked to the right, I looked over my right shoulder at the London eye, a blue ferris wheel that stands out among the amber lights struggling for relevance against the sunrise.

No one should be up this early. Most of London is still asleep, and even if they were awake, they wouldn't be seeing the view we were witnessing. The lights of the city, the bridges crossing the Thames river and the sunrise that blankets the buildings with more light after every turn of our holding pattern makes me pause for a moment to realize just why this job is the most visually rewarding of any occupation.

As we turned to the right one more time, I began to ponder whether an astronaut would actually prefer the variety of these spectacular sights that a mere 'low-level' pilot can see.

A 777 ahead of us was still dark enough to cover the city lights. Even Mike, the captain with close to 40 years in the air, was taken by the scene. "That's just incredible" he said as the airliner banked to the right and peeled away from us, just 1,000 feet below.

I had to resist the temptation to pull out my camera. I had taken some photos earlier, at 12,000 feet, above the 10,000 foot floor where we can't allow a camera to distract us during the more critical 'sterile period' of our arrival into Heathrow.

So often I wish I could simply upload to Flickr the five most interesting things my eye sees on a flight. I have to try to capture whatever I can and post them here on Flickr.

It was a couple of well timed views like this that inspired me to post a picture from every flight with a small caption on a blog years ago. Then I'd write more. And then more. Finally leading to the Cockpit Chronicles blog.

It'd be so much easier if you guys could just sit in the cockpit jumpseat.

1 comment:

chris said...

Holding on arrival to Heathrow? Is the airport or the surrounding airspace typically so congested at that hour that arrivals end up holding as a matter of course, or was something unusual going on that day?

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Exeter, New Hampshire, United States
Grew up in Alaska, went to high school and college in Washington State. Commercial pilot since 1990.

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