December 15, 2011

Shotgun Blues

Flying has never bothered me.  Airports are a different matter. I guess when you have spent as many hours as I have in various airports you just think of them as the modern equivalent of you grandpa's bus stations.

Yesterday I trudged down the ramp at Charlotte to my gate in the C Concourse. I was a little early to the gate and passengers were just starting to board a flight to Charleston. As the gate area cleared I picked a spot to sit. The air around me stunk.  It was bad body odor and it hung in the air like fog over London. I moved to another area and the odor lingered.  It covered the entire boarding area and lingered for the hour and a half  I waited to board my flight back to the Hoosier state. I am glad I was not next to that stinky passenger on the plane.  I bet they had to fumigate the aircraft after landing. WTH, is the concept of bathing so foreign these days?

I love flying at night. From 39,000 feet  you can see whole cities and counties at a glance. The lights look like splotches of orange and yellow paint splattered on black velvet. As we started our descent into Indy last night the scene was breathtaking.  As I looked out the scratched and greasy window I wished I had the skills to describe what I saw.

The plane was flying just above a solid cloud bank. The rain filled clouds looked like a gray sea against the night sky.  The plane seemed as if it were a ship sailing above a fluffy ocean. The clouds were literally right below our belly. We were skimming just above the upper surface of the clouds. .The plane banked left and the tip of the wing sliced into the clouds and disappeared from view, but the body of the plane remained just above the opaqueness.

As we started to descend into the clouds the plane seemed to speed up. I do not know why I always get that sensation when flying into clouds, there is no reference in the sky to help me sense speed, but it always feels as if we are accelerating.

We dropped from the low clouds just above the city. The tall buildings of downtown were to the south and east, just beyond my window, crouched in a huddled group around the hidden Soldiers and Sailors Monument.They seemed fewer and smaller from my vantage point in the winter sky.

The lights of the city spread below me.  I marveled again that the city may lack in a lot of respects, but it is sure beautiful from the air. The grid of streets is bisected by the avenues running at angles from the Circle downtown.  Orange lights line the streets.

As we came closer to the waiting arms of Mother Earth I began to see the signs and lights of stores and factories and shopping centers. Though I could not see them from the air, I noted again that Indianapolis has a remarkable number of trees within the city.  In a winter night the trees are just voids in the winking lights below. Soon I could discern the cars on the roads and highways.  I could just catch the twinkle of Christmas lights on a few decorated houses.

We sunk lower over the flat terrain and I could identify the Airport Expressway, or whatever it is called now. 465 was swept below as we crossed over the old terminal and parking lots and settled to a smooth landing. The FedEx  building loomed bright and busy on the left.

The plane rolled  westward toward the "new" terminal. I was home again, my last trip of the year.


Anonymous said...

I always loved flying at night and it was always with a little bit of regret when we finally landed. Flying in and out of clouds at night is always magical and as you stated the view is amazing. The lights seem to run on forever and then nothing but black, which always made me wonder what was down there in all that blackness. When we started flying with Night Vision Goggles there was still area's of complete blackness which made me wonder, have we actually walked all of this country? As for the smelly passengers, in a Chinook the smell always went to the cockpit and believe me not always pleasant.

James Old Guy

Anonymous said...

I prefer flying in daylight, especially if the weather is clear and we are soaring over the Rockies.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but I have seen it from the air :) Hard to do that at night.

Rita said...

The best air site for me was taking off from Fort Myers, mid-afternoon between small, scattered thunderstorms.

The site looked exactly like those ancient paintings of heaven, with beautiful puffy white and dark clouds with bits of sun shining in between. And then I saw a rainbow from above it. I was in awe seeing the complete beautiful, colorful arc several hunderd feet below me. Small lightning strikes in various clouds, rays of sun peaking through some and reflections off the gulf.

I only wish I had my camera at hand, but I will never forget how amazing the God painted sky was.

Ed Bonderenka said...

I love to figure out what Part of our locale I'm flying over landing and taking off.
I just wish I had GPS when flying cross country so I knew what pat of the country I was looking at.
Beautiful description, BTW.
Except for the stink.

Erin O'Brien said...

This is a terrific post, Joe. Thanks.

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