Tuesday, 4 May 2010

altitude check

chasing the sun at 450mph
Up before dawn so that I could travel to Germany. The BBC World Service was telling of the new smoke from the Icelandic volcano, so as I chipped the frost from my car before heading for the airport I wondered if I'd be stuck somewhere random in Europe by the end of the day.

Taxis, meeting people in lobbies, conference rooms until I was swept back to the airport to return at a similar time to the setting sun.

"There'll be some bumpiness for the first 20 minutes" explained the pilot. We were in one of those smaller planes that is only three seats across. The type where they worry about the load profile to ensure that the plane flies level.

Up through the clouds and I could see the distant sun setting slowly as we travelled towards it at 450mph and below it a notable orange haze. I know there's often something like this, but with the volcano stories I felt compelled to watch and wonder if it was the usual thing or something special created by the ash. There were certainly magical swirls as we approached the UK again.

Amusingly, I did at one point check whether the rather small plane flew at a normal cruising "above ash" altitude or would for some reason be lower. Sure enough, 37,000 feet, it said on the specification.

I'm back in England now and when I looked up, the night sky was clear and I could start to count the stars.

No comments: