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Why I do my sightseeing at 35,000 feet


The view from above the clouds is amazingly beautiful. It’s like looking up at a mountain, or looking at the stars in the sky at night; it reminds you of how small and insignificant you are in the Grand Scheme of Things when weighed against the overwhelming size of a mountain like Mt. St. Helens or the never-ending clusters of luminous gas in the night sky.


During the day, the clouds can look almost like snow, but somehow much more stunning. They can be in wisps, strings, clusters, sheets, or pretty much anything else imaginable. It’s quite breathtaking the first time you fly in a plane, and you pierce through a bank of clouds. Everything you see turns blindingly white and the water vapor of the clouds forms water droplets that speed across your window. You eventually emerge from the cloud and see a vast, white expanse of rolling clouds that look to be heaven (except you’re probably in an economic seat of a commercial plane, which means you’re in hell). You can see the horizon, where the white clouds meet the blue sky. If you’re unlucky, you may find yourself flying above a thunderstorm, which, although they can get quite bumpy and undoubtedly dangerous, is a great opportunity to see the storm clouds gather from a different angle.


When dusk arrives, the sun is setting, and the sky turns a beautiful shade of orange. The clouds darken, making the view quite relaxing, especially when coupled with some soothing music. As the sun disappears behind the horizon, the orange sky begins to dim and display countless specks of light.


At night, the view takes on a much more, well, darker atmosphere. You most likely can’t see the clouds without the light of a full moon to brighten them up. But if you’re lucky and you can see the clouds at night, it’s even more awe-inspiring than in the day. The previously white, fluffy clouds transform into dark gray swathes that envelope everything below the sky in a shroud of twilight. With less atmosphere and light pollution, the moon and stars are much brighter and clearer. If you’re even luckier, you’ll fly near a gap in the clouds and see the small cluster of lights of a city.


Eventually, if you stay awake through the night, dawn arrives and the sun peeks over the edge of the clouds. One of the most beautiful sights in the world is seeing the moon and stars fade as the sun begins to shine brightly on the horizon. It really is a magnificent sight. The sky brightens and transforms back into the more familiar baby blue hue, while the clouds revert into their former white and fluffy state from the illumination of the sun.


The view of the clouds from above is only limited by how high you are and how good your vision is. I definitely recommend that you take a camera with you on the flight and take pictures of the clouds. The more megapixels, the better, because the clouds and stars lose a little of their luster when they’re all grainy. Pictures of the clouds make a great background for your computer monitor.


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