Long-distance travel in the 21st century, (so far, anyway) almost always means flying in an aeroplane, which is an experience that is usually taken for granted; and yet, it is a truly exceptional experience.
Only a little over 100 years ago, no one had ever flown in an aeroplane. This is despite hundreds of years of dreaming, scheming, planning, and trying to find a way for a human to fly through the air.
Only in the last 50-60 years has flying been available to more than even a tiny proportion of the Earth's human population. The fact that many people now routinely travel at nearly 1000kph, more than ten kilometres above the surface of the Earth, commonly for up to fifteen hours at a time in a cohort of 600 people, is really improbable in the light of history.
And now, so many of us get to see sights that no human, nor almost any other thing that is capable of perceiving them, have ever been able to see. To see the clouds from above in their full form, in all their layers, shapes, and complexities; coastlines stretching into the distance; the play of light on the surface of the sea; Earth's highest mountains from above; and the extent and nature of humanity's modifications to the surface of Earth, seems like an nearly impossible improbability. Only in this most recent, tiny, part of humanity's time of existence on Earth, has it become possible for some of us get to see these amazing things.
This is why one of the most amazing aspects of flying in an aeroplane is simply looking out of the window at the world as it goes by – even at its least impressive it's still an amazing concept, and when it's at its most impressive, it's astounding! Here are a few of my recent favourites: (Hover your cursor over the picture to play the slide show or go full-screen.)
And these are some of my past favourite photographs taken through the window of a 'plane:
It amazes me that some people in a window seat will pull down the blind and read a book, while these sorts of scenes are going by outside!
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