I recently wrote a post about my thoughts on air travel.  Reading it, you may have gotten a sense that I view riding on airplanes as an unwelcome exercise in fear management and that I’m something of a chicken when it comes to even the most mild turbulence. And during every takeoff. And on most landings.  That’s all true, but I hasten to add this newly acquired, if paradoxical, factoid about myself:

I want to be a pilot.

More to the point, I want to woman the cockpit—every single day—on the Minneapolis to Palm Springs route.

Our recent flight to southern California started out as they all do, with me burying my nose in a crossword, calming music filling my ears, resolutely ignoring the thin, acrylic-and-plastic-covered hole sitting between me and certain death.  After a while, though, I glanced up and saw a nearby passenger’s seatback screen displaying our route and our aircraft’s place on it.  We were over Colorado, my favorite state.

I could stare at maps all day.

A reluctant glance out the window revealed snow-covered Rockies.

This would not be a good place to crash.

Based on what the screen was telling us, we could very well have been looking down on the Sawatch Range, meaning our beloved Leadville and the locations of many of our fourteener mishaps were somewhere out there . . .

Suddenly, the crosswords were abandoned, the playlist silenced, and my gaze fixed on the scenes floating by my now annoyingly small window.

Maybe we’ll see Mount Sneffels in a few minutes…

Before long the scenery changed from white to green to brown, from jagged to flat and rutted, as we sailed past the mountains and entered the airspace over the desert southwest.

Holy wow!

Now, I can’t prove it, but I could swear that I was looking down on the sacred and beguiling Monument Valley . . .

See the two buttes near the wing? Could it be?

. . . and could that be the road to the Moki Dugway?

The husband says definitely not, but he can’t prove it, so I’m going with it.

I’ve driven in, around, and through these areas so many times, and as stunning as they are from the ground, seeing them from above is something else entirely.  I was so captivated I nearly forgot to question how the hell a 100,000-lb jetliner could possibly be gliding through space without losing altitude and crashing in a fiery, smoking jumble of twisted metal, plastic tray tables, and crossword puzzle ashes.  The two times I did have terrifying intrusive thoughts, I just refocused my attention on the outstanding vista below.

I don’t know what this is, but isn’t it cool?!

As long as I was looking, I checked to make sure our plane wasn’t having a United Airlines Mishap like the one that recently rained debris over Denver. Being seated in the exit row is a big responsibility, and I take my duties seriously.

Intact wing? Check.

Finally, the terrestrial cracks began to widen and I didn’t even need to be told what lay beneath (thank goodness, because the neglectful captain didn’t say squat).  It was that vast, majestic maw in the the face of the Colorado Plateau, the Grand Canyon.

Wait for it . . .
. . . POW!

I’ve seen the Grand Canyon from the ground on three different occasions in my life, and now I’ve seen it from above.  Perhaps next I should experience it from within. Hmmm . . .

Before I knew it, the landscape was changing again.

Better cinematography than Out of Africa.

And suddenly, after darting recklessly through a narrow opening in the Little San Bernadino Mountains, we were there.

Best route ever

I alighted from the plane with a mile-wide grin hiding beneath my mask, not just because we were starting our long-awaited vacation, not just because we emerged into an indoor-outdoor palm-and-flower-strewn airport on a blissfully warm afternoon, but because I had just, for the first time I can remember, enjoyed my flight.

But don’t let my uncharacteristic about-face worry you.  Turbulence is out there, lurking.  Scary, ocean-crossing flights await.  I’m bound to have a bad flight in the future—it’s only a matter of time—and when I do, you can be certain I will promptly and unequivocally rescind this rescindment.

35 thoughts

  1. Wow, those views are amazing. I tend to sleep on planes or spend the entire time counting down the minutes and seconds until I can de-board. On rare occasions I’ve looked out the window. The best view I saw was as we were landing in Cusco in early morning and could see the Andes mountains from above. Pretty cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, just look at those incredible views! It’s one of my favourite things to do when I fly: watching the views that unfolds outside the plane window. As soon as the plane takes off, I’ll turn on the flight tracking on the entertainment system, put my headphones on and just gaze out the window. During my travels around the world, I’ve had the opportunity to see (and photograph) some of the most amazing plane window views. They never fail to inspire! Cheers and have a good

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome to my world, what took you so long? I have an extremely sore neck whenever I emerge from a flight as I contort my head to capture every bit of scenery I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m still amazed at the power of flight, something so many people take for granted. It’s an incredible feat to take a heavy piece of equipment full of people and have it soar through the air. The views are pretty spectacular as well.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. As a group, pilots are a bunch of curmudgeons. Pay me a lot and just let me fly the plane. I don’t care to have any conversation with anyone outside of the cockpit. There are exceptions, but not many. Each flight is like a bus ride to them, unless they get to skirt some ‘weather’ or have a mechanical episode of some sort, which is thankfully infrequent. They don’t talk because the don’t want to, and don’t have to. Welcome to Air Greyhound.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love flying over the Colorado mountains heading west or coming home from the west (while it’s still light out), and trying to find my little mountain valley. It’s a beautiful place from above or on the ground!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really liked your story telling about this flight … and need to go and read about your other post as well (“thoughts on air travel”), because I’m that one with my nose in the word search book and calming music in my ears while my husband is enjoying the scenes from his little window … 👀👀.
    Stunning pictures … looking at them with my feet firmly on the ground 😉.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Those are some incredible views! I love flying over mountains. The Grand Canyon looks fantastic too! Maybe being a pilot but not a great flyer is like getting car sick – it’s alright if you’re the one driving, haha.


  8. Definitely some pretty views and the only downside to evening flights, I always love the views flying over Canada and in to Seattle 🙂
    Not sure I’ve ever had the opportunity to fly over Colorado. The only time might have been New Orleans to Seattle but it was a night-time flight so I couldn’t see anything anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As you might gather, I’m still months behind on my reading. But this article of yours is one of your best! Flying, in just a few hours, can change your perspective on life in an instant. While PSP wouldn’t be my destination of choice having been there, hiked the mountaintop and Joshua Tree, if it gets you back in the mode, more power to you. As for me, give me Europe or give me death. This blog is perhaps going to be the impetus for me to get off of my butt and start writing and sharing pics of Iceland. I’ve been in a brain drain post-vacation lull, but I think that’s about to change. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh. Thank you so much! I’m so touched by your compliments. I do hope you share the stories and pictures from what was surely a fabulous trip to Iceland, and thanks for making my day! 🙂 (We’re flying home from Phoenix in just a couple of hours. Hopefully it’s on time and uneventful. I thought I’d get all caught up on blog reading while out here, but I’m behind, too.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s