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Flight: A pilots view of the air… April 30, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading Mark Vanhoenacker’s Skyfaring, a point was made that I think resonates. When we fly we – that is passengers, tend to see out the windows on the side motion of travel, not forward. And that’s largely unlike other modes of transport. Even trains curve ahead, and the windows are large enough to get a sense both of forward motion and the direction of travel. Van…. thinks that may add to the nervousness some experience in those situations, that it may add to the sense of a loss of control. But it’s not just control.

There are sights that pilots see every day that are denied to passengers due to this. So I went looking for cockpit views from aircraft that give some sense of this. I think the first YouTube clip here is perhaps the best, showing the journey from terminal to runway and then on to the take off roll and then on up into the sky before, well, wait for it. The last few minutes are worth, as it were, the price of admission.

The second is sort of breath-taking in a somewhat different way and only works as it should on my computer in Firefox, not Safari.

The third and fourth are from Dublin, the latter has some fabulous cloudscapes.

But it’s also fascinating from a technical point of view, the sense of this as a mature technology, the fourth clip which shows the Decide call where the landing has to be gone through with or aborted is fascinating. Note the runway is still fog bound as the jet decelerates along its length.

The last clip shows a takeoff from Belfast from the passenger viewpoint and I think underlines how limited, in a way, our visual experience of flying is in that context. But still amazing nonetheless. Of particular interest is remarkable technology, the wing, as it changes shape and profile before, during and after take-off. Though listen to the announcement c. 5 minutes for more prosaic aspects of the experience.

The days of passengers being ushered up to the cockpit during flights are now long gone, I almost had that experience on a flight across the Atlantic in 2000, not sure what happened. I’m sorry I missed it.

BTW, reading Fly by Wire by William Langewiesche, and very interesting it is too. And very cynical. It’s more an extended magazine piece but none the worse for it.


1. Michael Carley - April 30, 2016

I think I said this here before in a different context: if you get the chance, take a trial flying lesson in a small aeroplane rather than a few minutes in a simulator. For example (not a lesson, but a flight by an advanced learner):


WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2016



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