Like Larry the Flying Guy on Facebook!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Some things you can only see as a pilot

Speaking with the perspective that a pilot first sees, then feels, then merges with, Charles Lindbergh said, "Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance." Amelia Earhart echoed that wisdom when she pointed out, "You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."

There are many things only pilots can see. And while airliners have their own great vantage point, able to see the mountains or the ocean from 100 miles away, those of us who get to set our own course and our own altitudes, whether 1,000 feet up or 10,000, get to combine the "above it all" perspective with enough nearness to still see detail.

This winter has been an exceptionally cold one, and the Great Lakes have not just broken the record for ice, they have smashed it. While I was flying at 2500 MSL (which is about 2000 feet above ground level here) on February 13, 2014, I noticed this extremely unusual configuration of cracks in the ice in Lake Erie:

Click image to embiggen.

Although that looks like a map, it is ice on the lake! However, if you were standing on the lake shore, you would have no idea that was there. It would look like a flat sheet of white to the ground-bound shoregazer.

At that time, Lake Erie was 95.3% frozen (according to NOAA's Ice Dynamics site), which was down from 99% only a couple of days earlier. Just two days later, it was already thawing and that whole region was back to water:

The same place two days later. Click image to embiggen.
A few miles east of that, I flew over some dazzling ice patterns. I wont clutter up this post with all of them except for this one, which is simply spectacular:

Click image to embiggen.

In this and so many other ways, flying does not simply give you a whole new perspective on the world, it lets you see things about the world you never would have known even existed.

These glimmering arrays of ice are already gone, victims of a pair of days of 50+ degree weather. While their beauty was ephemeral, the experience of seeing them through the eyes of a pilot is eternal.

No comments:

Post a Comment