As terrestrial creatures, it is unnatural to spend more than a few moments separated from our planet. I suppose that is why so many people find flying so interesting. Like riding in a submarine a thousand feet below the surface of the ocean, we’re really not supposed to be here. I mean, down there. Er, up there.
And yet, as is so characteristic of our species, we have adapted. Now traveling 8 miles above the planet at 90% of the speed of sound watching a movie or texting a friend on the other side of the world and getting a near-instantaneous response in air conditioned, pressurized comfort has become a “so-what” experience. So much so, in fact, that the experience of doing it (flying) is often viewed as an inconvenience, something that must be tolerated, even endured. How can that be? Consider what a leading scientific or historical figure from the 18th century might say about the remarkable business of flying if he were to suddenly wake up in a jet flying serenely at 45,000 feet. That is, what he’d say after he stopped screaming.
While a pilot’s job is mostly techie, tactical and tedious, we spend a lot of time looking out windows. And though we may consider flying routine, there is always a lot to see. Pulling away from the earth, climbing through the top of an overcast, watching lightning travel across, around and through a giant thunderstorm at night, seeing the sun set between towering clouds, its orange rays streaking across a wine-colored darkening sky – it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a pilot or how many times you’ve seen similar sights – pilots quietly and respectfully savor those moments.
Those who choose to charter or own private jets have something in common with pilots: an affinity for and appreciation of flight. Beyond the convenience, there is an intrinsic freedom in having an airplane fly when and where you want. There is pleasure in setting in motion all the activity required to comfortably move you and yours across a state, country, or ocean. But once you’re underway and looking forward to reaching your destination, don’t forget to take a look out the window. You never know when you’ll see an Air Force tanker dragging a gaggle of fighters through a sky of broken clouds or the Aurora Borealis or catch a submarine breaking through the ocean’s surface after a deep dive.