Sunday, 18 October 2009

In search of the sublime aesthetic at 36,000 ft

Window seat or aisle? "Window seat or you'll what?" I'm reminded of that Harry Enfield gag each time I board a plane. For me, if the journey's not made during entirely at night, it's window seat, every time. Which means, when flying low-cost, to manouevre myself into Seat 2A or 2F (not the very front row, seated here, my camera bag would have to go in overhead locker, making aerial photography difficult). Any further back than row 5 and the engines and wings start getting in the way.

Normally flying to the UK on a morning flight from Warsaw and an afternoon flight back, I'll go Starboard Out, Port Home. Making me SOPH rather than POSH. This way, I'm not shooting into the sun, but have objects correctly illuminated on the way out. And flying home, I get the chance to snap our house should the plane be landing on Runway 33 (it usually does, into a prevailing wind). But yesterday I flew Port Out, to catch the setting sun at 36,000ft (11km).

I pick up the Sublime Aesthetic over Europe. This is the oceanic feeling, total connection with the rhythms of the planet as it spins on its journey around the sun, the edge of night, the plane racing west slowing down the sunset. The two-hour flight covers 20 degrees or one-eighteenth of the world's circumference. In other words, the plane is flying at three-quarters of the speed of the spinning globe.

Below: We cross the contrails of several aircraft along the way, picked out in red by the rays of the setting sun. On the ground, it's already dark. But 11km up, the sun's light has not yet disappeared.

As we get further west, so air traffic becomes denser. Left: a four-engined airliner on a north-easterly course, probably on an Arctic air-route to the Far East. The horizon is tinged with orange, the clouds below catching the magenta light.
Below: I've blown this pic up but can't make out what's crossing over us. Probably a 'vanilla' 737 or A320, but it's not clear. To me, this is a USAF F-84G in arctic colours (silver with dayglo orange nose, tail and wingtips), from the early 1950s.


Aphelion said...

Beautiful pictures! You really have a talent for photography!

Anonymous said...

paggeringly stood gictures!

Dr Spooner {retired}

Dyspozytor said...

When I was young we felt this way about steam engines.

PolishMeKnob said...

Hey, great photos from an airplane! You're lucky to see other planes in flight (something I've yet to see from an airplane.)

Andrew Nathan said...

Well done Michael. Fabulous pics.