The joy of a night flight

Airborne at just after 2am, the airframe dripping with dew, the screen clearing as we accelerate down the runway, tiny globules of water streaming up the perspex before taking flight towards the tailplane. Banking left, the city lights twinkle their cheery hello, the occasional set of vehicle headlights lighting up small strips of tarmac in front of them, traffic lights adding variety to the urban colours in the darkness.

Ahead of us to the east a large CB is lit up from inside like a Chinese lantern, the beauty belying the danger lurking within. The full moon adds an erie, almost spooky glow to the now rural landscape below, the recently harvested fields showing up as pale ghostly rectangles, the clouds lit gently by the moons soft light.

We turn north, London ahead, full of light, all shades of orange and yellow, red obstacle lights flashing like fairy lights on a winter fir, the Thames Estuary visible even from our position some 20 miles away, gleaming in the moonlight.

Turning west, wings levelling on our assigned track, we are startled by a sudden streak of bright white light, a shooting star guiding us on our way, swiftly pursued by several more, natures fireworks glorious in their midnight display.

Too soon it’s time to land, more delight from the array of runway lights beckoning us down, their colours and meaning well known, reassuring to the aviator descending back down to be ground bound once again.

Too easy to forget what delight can be had, from a brief foray into that world that only us pilots can access. Taxying in, green centreline followed, engines shut down, the silence returns; the beauty remains but nothing so grand as that view from on high.


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