the view from the airplane window

As often as possible, I try to get a window seat when I’m traveling. Certainly anything beats the dreaded middle seat, and crawling over other people when you need to stretch your legs can be a pain, but that window seat has the best thing on board—a window. A recent article by Peter Ferry on World Hum, “ Out the Airplane Window,” describes some of the most stunning moments he’s had as an observer through the window of a commercial aircraft. When I think back on some of the flights I’ve taken, it’s not the movies on that teeny little screen that are memorable.

It’s the views of the world below me that stay in my mind, like the time we passed over the Great Blue Hole, off the coast of Belize. I’d always imagined it much larger, but that didn’t diminish the beauty of the perfect deep blue circle surrounded by gem-toned Caribbean water just below my window. Once, I got an aerial tour of Yosemite National Park on the way home to San Francisco. As a California native, I’d visited Yosemite countless times, but the priceless view from above was something I’d never seen—other than on TV.

We may never be able to visit all the places we see out the airplane window, but just seeing them as we pass over is far better than seeing them on screen. And it adds to the travel experience in counting not just the destination, but also the journey as important. I’ll always remember gazing out from a small propeller plane as I left the Peruvian Amazon behind me on my way to Cuzco. The bark-colored water lay in lazy loops among the lush emerald forest like a monstrous serpent. Ahead, the Andes formed asnow-capped wall.

I don’t think there will ever be a movie that will make me feel like I did at that moment. Traveling on an airplane never fails to amaze me. Well, that is if I manage to get a seat by the window. Why? I get to see all sorts of landscapes as the plane lifts off, cruises above the rest of the world for hours, and I always believe there’s always something beautiful out at the window, waiting to be discovered. It could be the enchanting sunset, the vast mountains and terrains, or the buzzing city scene with its intricate transport network woven into society.